“. . . the most important philosophical divide in the world of foster care is between those who believe that “kids are better off with their parents and the state’s job is to provide and regulate security,” and those who think that “kids are better off safe and the state’s job is to provide and regulate a new family.” Though Beam is thorough and fair in her reporting on both sides, she makes clear where she stands. ‘I know the statistics,’ Beam writes. ‘Children do better with their (even marginal) birth parents than with foster parents.
“But who defines marginality? Beam introduces us to Lei, a smart Chinese teenager whose foster mom fed her and gave her a bed to sleep on — but barely spoke to her. ‘There are so many crises in foster care . . . that basic, low-level functioning begins to seem exemplary,’ Beam writes. ‘These are the mediocre flatlands of child welfare, where if it’s not a crisis it’s not a problem.’
“To the End of June is a triumph of narrative reporting and storytelling, as well as a thorough and nuanced analysis of an American institution deeply in need of reform. It would have been hard enough to write a book focusing on just one theme, but Beam, a foster parent herself, strives for both humanity and context.”
An important topic with a depressing narrative arc that is a reminder of how much more debate surrounds the fate of a fetus than a child in our midst.
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