Orphans of the Living: Stories of America's Children in Foster Care

Jennifer Toth, Author Simon & Schuster $23 (320p) ISBN 978-0-684-80097-4
The substitute, or foster, child-care system does more harm than good, the author was told by a number of caseworkers and social workers she interviewed for this report. And according to Toth (The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City), a ""code of silence"" keeps most workers in the system from discussing their cases. According to Toth, 40% of the half-million children in the foster-care system eventually will wind up on welfare rolls or in prison because of the lack of loving adults in their lives. Toth spent two years researching systems in North Carolina, Chicago and Los Angeles responsible for providing parenting for children whose parents cannot, or will not, care for them. In this eloquent and harrowing study, she focuses on five children who grew up in substitute care, describing the original dysfunctional families the children came from as well as the ways that foster care made things worse for them. Angel was sexually abused by, and eventually married and had children (now in foster care) with her 69-year-old foster father. The inappropriate institutions in which Bryan was placed led to juvenile detention and incarceration. Although Jamie has become a self-sufficient college student, she hasn't overcome her mother's desertion. Toth has written an excellent expose of a system that hurts those it is charged to help. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/28/1997
Release date: 05/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-684-84480-0
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