*** To the End of June by Cris Beam

To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care is not a happy book, it’s rather awkwardly organized, with weird repeats and meanders, and it militantly remains descriptive when this reader, at least, would love to hear solutions to the problem of foster care, but I hope you will give it a try. Written by a woman who was herself in foster care and served as a foster mother, It gives a chilling account, not only of the circumstances in which children enter foster care (being removed from one’s parents’ care is surprisingly rare, so the circumstances under which this can occur are very dire) but also of the system instead, which seems designed to treat children like widgets, shuttling them between placements with arcane rules, with little chance for them to find a stable environment and to recover from their earlier trauma. The foster parents described in the book, even the better ones, seem rather overwhelmed by their charges and the burden of having to fight the system for every little thing. It seems that some thorough reforms would be needed, starting with perhaps two simple ideas. One would be the ability to track the children throughout their childhood so as not to force them to start over because of random assignments. And the other would be to design flexible foster programs through which children and parents could get the help they need without yanking children to and fro, similar to what a good grandparent can provide. There’s much to improve…




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