Social Issues / Public Policy / Children


Children Who Could Have Been
The Legacy of Child Welfare in Wealthy America
William M. Epstein

"Provokes a debate that is long overdue in child welfare."
—David Stoesz, author of The Politics of Child Abuse in America

"A scathing, if painstaking, review of the neglect and abuse of children by the nation and by public child welfare agencies."
—Alvin L. Schorr, author of Passion and Policy: A Social Worker's Career

William Epstein takes an unblinking look at the failure of public child welfare in America. The paltry response to children in need, Epstein contends, opens windows onto the nation's soul, revealing a profoundly disturbing lack of generosity in the face of deserving and needy children.

Epstein analyzes in detail the decay of the child welfare system through the case histories of Natalie and Adam, two children who have spent their lives in and out of foster homes and orphanages. He shows how few studies actually measure the child's real outcomes, and how unreliable social scientific research has ultimately been used to rationalize policies of public neglect. He condemns conservatives and liberals alike for their participation in this neglect, demonstrating that the now popular social efficiency model in welfare reform, designed to reduce public responsibility, does not and cannot provide adequate care.

In a media environment that focuses increasingly on the "undeserving" recipients of public aid, Children Who Could Have Been shines a light on the human side of the debate. Epstein's is a principled voice for this important social issue.

William M. Epstein is professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is the author of The Dilemma of American Social Welfare, The Illusion of Psychotherapy, and Welfare in America: How Social Science Fails the Poor.

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September 1999
LC: 99-013086 HV
176 pp.     6 x 9
ISBN: 978-0-299-16380-8   
Cloth $22.95 t

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