Article

The Child Welfare and Education Gap

The Child Welfare and Education Gap

Eric Chung

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Given the overlapping interests between child welfare and education, one might expect federal laws and policies in these two areas to work in tandem. But in the United States, they have not. With food, nutrition, and early childhood programs among the few exceptions, welfare and education laws have largely been embodied in separate statutes and administered by different agencies. Since their advent and evolution from the 1900s to the present, welfare laws have become increasingly and predominantly concerned with regulating mothers and families, while education laws have become increasingly and predominantly concerned with regulating teachers and schools. Neither area of law has prioritized children as its direct beneficiaries. This Article argues that this misdirected attention is responsible for why these two areas remain disconnected: both welfare and education laws have ignored the immediate needs of children, while focusing instead on regulating the institutions surrounding them. If children were placed at the center of public benefits, the importance of linking adequate child welfare and education systems would become more obvious, as it has been for the food, nutrition, and early childhood programs that buck this trend. After analyzing the gap between these two areas of law, this Article proposes a reconceptualization and unification of child welfare and education laws and policies to better serve socioeconomically disadvantaged children and their families.

A.B., Harvard University. J.D., Yale Law School. I am deeply grateful to David Super, who supported this project from the start and provided extensive guidance on its development. For helpful feedback from conversations to comments on drafts, I thank Anne Alstott, Owen Fiss, William Garfinkel, Goodwin Liu, David Rosen, members of the Spring 2017 Education Law & Policy Reading Group at Yale Law School, and editors of the Yale Law & Policy Review, including Tony Binder, Matteo Godi, Catherine Martinez, Saúl Ramírez, and Regina Wang. For introducing me to legal scholarship and encouraging my own writing, I thank Akhil Amar, Ian Ayres, Lea Brilmayer, Amy Chua, E. Donald Elliott, Heather Gerken, Paul Gewirtz, Abbe Gluck, Jonathan Gould, Linda Greenhouse, Jacob Hacker, Oona Hathaway, Harold Koh, Margaret Lemos, Daniel Markovits, Michael Moore, Robert Post, Edward Purcell, Judith Resnik, Cristina Rodríguez, and James Whitman. I also thank my wonderful family and friends who made this journey possible.
Cite this article:

Eric Chung

,

The Child Welfare and Education Gap

, 36 Yale L. & Pol'y Rev. 365 (2018).