The child welfare system in the United States is not living up to its name. Rather than nurturing the intellectual potential, capacity for joy, and emotional wellness of foster children, the system too often takes a narrow approach to maintaining only the children’s physical well-being.

I speak from my experience as a caseworker, administrator, and creator of a unique program in child welfare. Twenty-five years of butting up against the constraints of this system have made clear to me that the problem is structural. The occasional caseworker who would seek to nurture a child’s potential interests or passions would usually be thwarted by the limited paradigm around which the system is constructed. Year after year, most caseworkers go through the motions, while heeding the entrenched and narrow mandates set forth by their agencies as the lives of children under their care stagnate.

I believe...

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