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February/March 2002Vol. 3, No. 2Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare

Roberts, Dorothy. Basic Books, New York, NY. 351 pp. $19.25. Hardcover.

Roberts examines the role that race plays in the child welfare and protection system, focusing on the reasons black children are disproportionately represented. Each year, welfare agencies nationwide take tens of thousands of children from their homes and place them in state custody. Yet, even though black children represent only 17 percent of the nation's children, they make up 42 percent of the children in foster care. Roberts uses conversations with mothers fighting for child custody in Chicago, as well as national data, to examine three main points:

  • Why so many black children are removed from homes and placed under state supervision
  • How the current politics of child welfare affects the system's racial imbalance
  • Why we should be concerned about the racial disparity in the child welfare system.

She concludes by proposing steps to help correct these imbalances while still protecting the children that need protection, and cautions against studies that use only the worst cases of child abuse and neglect as data representative of the system as a whole.

To purchase a copy, contact:

Basic Books
10 E. 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022
Phone: 212-207-7600