Wasted

Wasted

by Patrick T. Murphy
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

The public guardian of Cook County, Illinois, charges that the child welfare bureaucracy, designed to help children, is instead helping to destroy them. “Murphy explains the facts and failures of the child welfare system—and offers solutions—better than any expert I've ever read on the subject....A first-rate read—poignant and

See more details below

Overview

The public guardian of Cook County, Illinois, charges that the child welfare bureaucracy, designed to help children, is instead helping to destroy them. “Murphy explains the facts and failures of the child welfare system—and offers solutions—better than any expert I've ever read on the subject....A first-rate read—poignant and instructive.”—Edward I. Koch.

Editorial Reviews

Msgr. John Egan
A splendid book.
Boris M. Astrachan
Honest and self-reflective...written with wit and great knowledge.
Edward I. Koch
Wasted is a first-rate read—poignant and instructive.
Ellis Cose
Insightful and passionate...a book about responsibility and of how shirking it leads to social catastrophe.
Elizabeth Bartholet
A powerful indictment of the child welfare system...its message deserves a broad hearing among those who care about our society's children.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this angry, hard-hitting book, Murphy the public guardian of Cook County, Ill.argues that state agencies and the legal system don't always use good judgment in trying to keep families intact. Although he acknowledges that even marginally conscientious parents are usually better than the institutional care the state can provide, he claims to have seen too many cases of children brutalized by parents who lack skills and concern. In Murphy's view, the system originally designed to protect children now regards irresponsible parents as society's victims and protects them instead, in effect "preserving families [and] killing children." While separation from parents can be damaging, the author makes the point that in many cases it is less so than allowing children to remain at risk. He reserves particular scorn for critics of interracial adoption and suggests that "residential care" (orphanages) sometimes provides a more stable and nurturing environment than foster care. Murphy's snarling tone occasionally undercuts him, as does as a marked tendency to argue from anecdotal evidence. But unlike many social critics, he lists practical ideas for rehabilitating the system, such as reclassifying abuse and neglect into three separate categories for legal redress, and restructuring child welfare bureaucracies into two agencies, one to provide services and the other to investigate child abuse. These suggestions alone make the book worth reading. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Murphy writes on a topic he knows thoroughly. After 30 years in various capacities as an advocate for abused and neglected children (he is currently the public guardian of Cook County, Illinois), he has seen it all. None of it is very pretty. Murphy has no illusions about our present welfare and children's services systems, offering an earthy inside view of why these systems aren't working and providing anecdotal proof of the failures. He feels our efforts are being misdirected in preserving families. Some families can't and shouldn't be preserved. Murphy states, "In the present system, the parent's victim status becomes more important than the child's neglect." He offers solutions, but will they be enough? For all social science collections. [For another view on family preservation, see Marianne Berry's The Family at Risk: Issues and Trends in Family Preservation Services, LJ 8/97.Ed.]Sandra Isaacson, U.S. EPA Region VII Lib., Kansas City, Kan.
Kirkus Reviews
Blunt and authoritative, another indictment of a child welfare system that jumps abused children from home to foster care to mental institution to jail like pieces in a manic game of checkers.

Murphy (Our Kindly Parent, the State, 1974) is the public guardian of Cook County, Ill., a unique office from which he represents both troubled children and the elderly. He has seen generations of children move through the child welfare system, bouncing from foster parents to birth parents until the children too are old enough to have children and mistreat them. Murphy very carefully differentiates between families who are merely poor, struggling but with a future, and the families of the "underclass . . . a dysfunctional fourth world culture that strangles its young." Using the first several chapters of the book to outline his own experience as prosecutor, Peace Corps volunteer, and Legal Aid lawyer—years of confrontation with the many aspects of poverty—Murphy goes on to disdain both the traditional liberal view of the poor as victims and the conservative message to let the poor "rot at home." He has some serious questions about the family preservation policies that still drive most social service agencies. Some parents are irredeemably irresponsible, and children should never be returned to their care, says the author. Some modest proposals are offered that would in essence reduce the power of the courts in determining the fate of abused and neglected children and return those decisions to a reorganized child welfare system, modify confidentiality laws so that they no longer protect an incompetent welfare bureaucracy, and expand and bolster "residential care" facilities (orphanages, if you will).

Short and pungent, designed to be controversial, here's a blow at the child protection system from a knight who's been in the fray a long time and knows the enemy.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781566633338
Publisher:
Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
Publication date:
12/19/1997
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.59(w) x 8.56(h) x 0.58(d)

What People are saying about this

Msgr. John Egan
A splendid book.
— DePaul University
Elizabeth Bartholet
A powerful indictment of the child welfare system...its message deserves a broad hearing among those who care about our society's children.
— professor of law, Harvard Law School
Boris M. Astrachan M.D.
Honest and self-reflective...written with wit and great knowledge.
— Chairman Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago
Ellis Cose
Insightful and passionate...a book about responsibility and of how shirking it leads to social catastrophe.
— author of Color-Blind and The Rage of a Privileged Class
Edward I. Koch
Wasted is a first-rate read-poignant and instructive.
— former mayor, New York City

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >