To the end of June The intimate life of American foster care

Cris Beam

Book - 2013

An intimate, authoritative look at the foster care system that examines why it is failing the kids it is supposed to protect and what can be done to change it.

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Subjects
Published
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013.
Language
English
Physical Description
xvii, 313 pages ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9780151014125
0151014124
Main Author
Cris Beam (-)
  • Preface
  • Author's note
  • Catch
  • King solomon's baby
  • Eye of the beholder
  • Timing is anything
  • Drugs in the system
  • Catch as catch can
  • Hold
  • Surge control
  • Chutes and ladders and chutes
  • Arrested in development
  • Taking agency
  • Homespun
  • Release
  • Fantasy islands
  • There's something about Mary
  • Experiment
  • Touching the elephant
  • Last call
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments.
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Whenever newspaper headlines scream about the abuse of foster children, the public is outraged, child protection agencies radically change their policies, and poor children go on living in a hodgepodge of foster care and suffering myriad unintended consequences, according to Beam, whose background includes a fractured childhood and experience as a foster mother. Here she offers a very intimate look at a system little known to most people. Beam spent five years talking to foster children, parents and foster parents, and social workers, mostly in New York. Her profiles include Bruce and Allyson, with three children of their own, taking in as many as five foster children, and Steve and Erin, fostering a child they want to adopt, whose mother signed away her rights on a napkin. Beam also writes about teens who've been bounced from home to home, some longing for adoption, others sabotaging their chances out of fear, many hoping for promised aging-out bonuses. Beam offers historical background and keen analysis of the social, political, racial, and economic factors that drive foster-care policies, noting the recent swing from massive removals to support for keeping families together. A very moving, powerful look at a system charged with caring for nearly half a million children across the U.S. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

A Lambda Literary Award-winning journalist and foster mother, Beam uses individualized stories to clarify how badly our current foster care system fails the half-million children in its charge. [Page 57]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Castaway kids and adult caretakers piece together fragile bonds in this heart-wrenching panorama of American foster families. Beam (Transparent: Love, Family and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers), herself a former teen runaway and sometime foster parent, paints sympathetic but clear-eyed portraits of everyone impacted by the foster-care system: biological parents who lose their children because they are deemed unfit to care for them, or because they have issues with drug abuse, poverty, or are incarcerated; inexperienced, overworked case workers who determine the fate of their charges based on fuzzy and clashing guidelines; and foster parents and the kids they shelter, both sides wary of the strangers who come into their lives but hopeful of forming nurturing homes. Beam analyzes how foster-care systems seesaw between draconian child-removal policies and initiatives to keep families intact, and dissects the contradictory laws and regulations that keep kids shuttling for years among different homes with little chance to form stable attachments. The core of the book is Beam's subtle, evocative reportage on the emotional travails of foster homes, especially the mixed feelings of anxiety, hope, resentment, and guilt that roil kids when transferring their affections from dysfunctional biological relatives to provisional foster parents. Beam presents both a sharp critique of foster-care policies and a searching exploration of the meaning of family. Agent: Amy Williams, McCormick & Williams. (Aug.) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Examines the foster care system, revealing why it is failing the kids it is supposed to protect and offers hope for changing a system in crisis.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Filled with the passionate voices of children, foster and biological parents, case workers and reformers, this authoritative examination of the foster care system reveals why it is failing the kids it is supposed to protect and offers hope for changing a system in crisis.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"A triumph of narrative reporting and storytelling. . . .  Beam gives [foster children] a much-needed voice and does what too many adults in the foster-care system can't, or won't: She advocates for them." -- New York Times Book ReviewWho are the children of foster care? What, as a country, do we owe them? Cris Beam, a foster mother herself, spent five years immersed in the world of foster care, looking into these questions and tracing firsthand stories. The result is To the End of June, an unforgettable portrait that takes us deep inside the lives of foster children at the critical points in their search for a stable, loving family.The book mirrors the life cycle of a foster child and so begins with the removal of babies and kids from birth families. There's a teenage birth mother in Texas who signs away her parental rights on a napkin only to later reconsider, crushing the hopes of her baby's adoptive parents. Beam then paints an unprecedented portrait of the intricacies of growing up in the system'the back-and-forth with agencies, the shuffling between pre-adoptive homes and group homes, the emotionally charged tug of prospective adoptive parents and the fundamental pull of birth parents. And then what happens as these system-reared kids become adults? Beam closely follows a group of teenagers in New York who are grappling with what aging out will mean for them and meets a woman who has parented eleven kids from the system, almost all over the age of eighteen, and all still in desperate need of a sense of home and belonging.Focusing intensely on a few foster families who are deeply invested in the system's success, To the End of June is essential for humanizing and challenging a broken system, while at the same time it is a tribute to resiliency and offers hope for real change.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

"A triumph of narrative reporting and storytelling. . . .  Beam gives [foster children] a much-needed voice and does what too many adults in the foster-care system can't, or won't: She advocates for them." -- New York Times Book ReviewWho are the children of foster care? What, as a country, do we owe them? Cris Beam, a foster mother herself, spent five years immersed in the world of foster care, looking into these questions and tracing firsthand stories. The result is To the End of June, an unforgettable portrait that takes us deep inside the lives of foster children at the critical points in their search for a stable, loving family.The book mirrors the life cycle of a foster child and so begins with the removal of babies and kids from birth families. There’s a teenage birth mother in Texas who signs away her parental rights on a napkin only to later reconsider, crushing the hopes of her baby’s adoptive parents. Beam then paints an unprecedented portrait of the intricacies of growing up in the system—the back-and-forth with agencies, the shuffling between pre-adoptive homes and group homes, the emotionally charged tug of prospective adoptive parents and the fundamental pull of birth parents. And then what happens as these system-reared kids become adults? Beam closely follows a group of teenagers in New York who are grappling with what aging out will mean for them and meets a woman who has parented eleven kids from the system, almost all over the age of eighteen, and all still in desperate need of a sense of home and belonging.Focusing intensely on a few foster families who are deeply invested in the system’s success, To the End of June is essential for humanizing and challenging a broken system, while at the same time it is a tribute to resiliency and offers hope for real change.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

An intimate, authoritative look at the foster care system that examines why it is failing the kids it is supposed to protect and what can be done to change it.