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Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare. (nonfiction reviews).

Shattered Bonds-The Color of Child Welfare
by Dorothy Roberts
Perseus Books, December 2001, $26.00
ISBN 0-465-07058-2


Using a somewhat clinical approach, Shattered Bonds documents why the child welfare system in America is in serious trouble. That being said, perhaps the most tragic victims are African-American and minority children, who, for whatever reason, seem to fall through the cracks of a system ostensibly designed for their protection. This sad but recurring story is the basis of a new book by Harvard- and Yale-trained educator Dorothy Roberts.

Shattered Bonds is a thoroughly detailed and mostly distressing examination of the racial imbalance in the foster care system. The 300-plus-page book carefully mixes the author's opinion with statistical facts to document the widespread social injustice in foster care. One example illustrates how African-American parents and poor families often have the greatest difficulty in regaining custody of their children placed in foster care, due in large part to systematic racism.

Roberts also draws an interesting parallel between the experiences of African Americans in the foster care system and in other institutions. "The color of child welfare is related to the fate of parents and children in the criminal justice system, another predominantly Black institution," she writes. "A major cause of family disruption is the high incarceration rate among young Black fathers and a growing number of Black mothers."

In another chapter, the author criticizes the child welfare system's effort at reform, which Roberts says should be geared toward helping troubled families, but so often fails to. A mix of statistics, anecdotal information and foster care reform proposals, Shattered Bonds offers a thorough critique of an institution that continues to compromise the African-American community.

--Reviewed by Glenn Towne, a New Jersey-based writer and contributor to BIBR.
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Author:Towne, Glenn
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2002
Words:291
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