Race and Foster Care

Race and Foster Care

The headlines of the nation’s newspapers, from New York to Washington to Los Angeles, blare out the same message: “D.C. Foster Care Workers Tell of Horrors,” “Foster Care System Reeling,” “Troubled Children Flood Ill-Prepared Foster Care System.” The nation’s foster-care system has been flooded with thousands of “emotionally traumatized children” who are “products of families ruined by crack, AIDS and homelessness.” Foster care agencies, using photographs and advertisements, reinforce the public’s perception that their agencies are valiantly trying to address the needs of minority children abandoned by their families and communities.

It is undoubtedly true that twelve years of Reagan and Bush child-care and social service policies have exacerbated the problems faced by many minority families. But the history of the foster-care system in America’s large cities suggests that the dominant foster-care agencies themselves, along with local government, deserve a great deal of the blame for the current suffering of America’s dependent minority children.

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