Foster Care: The Crisis Behind the Crisis

The state of foster care in America has stirred deep concern among public officials, social workers, and researchers for decades. More than 35 years ago, Congressman George Miller (D-CA)  was already decrying the “continuing crisis in foster care,”1 a crisis evident in an explosion of the number of children in foster care—just 272,000 in 1962, up sharply to almost 320,000 in 1972, and still slightly over 300,000 in 1980.2 In the late 1980s, when the number of children in foster care remained at about 300,000, Thomas Groninger—a recruiter of foster families for Pennsylvania—was still lamenting that “more kids are being referred to the foster care system than we can handle. . . . It’s a state and national problem.”3 Things only got worse in the 1990s, when observers watched in dismay as the number of children in foster care skyrocketed, reaching almost 570,000 in 1999.4 What was even more alarming about the 1990s surge in foster-care placements was that it brought into the system a flood of children whom observers reported “tend[ed] to be younger and more distressed,” so distressed that they often “set fires, sexually abuse[d] others, torture[d] animals, and attempt[ed] suicide.”5

Alarmed by the metastasis in the foster-care system, Congress passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, a measure creating new incentives for adoptions that take children out of foster care or—when adoption does not occur—requiring that child-welfare officials hold permanency hearings not later than 12 months after a child has entered foster care while eliminating “long-term foster-care” as a permanent option.6  This measure has helped shrink the foster-care population somewhat, but in late 2011, the number of children in foster care still stood at over 400,000.7 No wonder that in 2013 Claire Pomeroy—the Dean of Medicine for the School of Medicine at the University of California, Davis—would still label the number of children in foster care a “shameful statistic” and would point to the children behind that statistic as “the faces of a nation’s soul in crisis.”8

Few knowledgeable observers will question the rhetoric of crisis invoked by those dealing with foster care in America. For behind the statistics lies the disturbing reality of hundreds of thousands of children in peril. The peril comes, first of all, from the parental drug use, child abuse and neglect, and homelessness that make foster care necessary for these children.9 For many children, foster care brings safety, healing, and reassurance. A former foster child herself, Pomeroy speaks for these children when she declares, “Foster care ultimately saved me. . . .

People cared enough to make the foster care system work for me.”10 Such positive outcomes indeed constitute the justification for foster care.
Unfortunately, placement in foster care does not always work out so well. Sometimes—too often—foster care does not protect and heal children but rather exposes them to new perils, in some cases perils worse than those that prompted state officials to place those children in foster care in the first place. Pomeroy herself acknowledges, “I was lucky. . . . As I went through the [foster-care] system, I saw children who were not as fortunate . . . who were failed by the system. . . . They were robbed of their ideals, gave up hope and struggled to find a reason to live.”11

The reasons that foster-children not infrequently fall into despair emerge in chilling reports of children neglected, abused, and even killed while in foster care. Though hardly typical, a number of tragic cases illustrate just how badly foster care can go wrong. Consider, for instance, the case of Logan Marr, a five-year-old who died of asphyxiation after her foster mother bound her with duct tape and tied her in a basement high chair12; or Braxton Taylor, a ten-month-old who died after his foster mother shook him until his brain filled with blood13; or Alize Vick, who died after her foster mother threw her five feet into a coffee table.14

Beyond the rare—but still too common—cases of children killed by foster parents, the foster-care system is plagued by the much more common problem of children abused while in foster care, often by other foster children. Such abuse shows up with disconcerting frequency even in the Seattle-based Casey Family foster-care program, which one commentator calls “one of the very best in the nation” because of its low caseloads and special training for foster parents. In this model program, 24 percent of female foster children who “aged-out” of foster care said that they had been “victims of actual or attempted sexual abuse” in the foster home in which they had stayed the longest. In this model system, child abuse and neglect run well above the national incidence rate of between 2.3 and 4.9 percent in the general population.15

Just how hard life is for foster children may be inferred from the number who slide into neuroses and depression. A 2000 study found that “children in foster care had Medicaid expenditures for mental health services that were more than 11.5 times greater than those expenditures for AFDC-eligible children,” a comparison group which itself is “not notable for stellar health status.”16  The prevalence of mental illness among foster children makes it unsurprising that almost half of them drop out of high school and that a disturbingly high percentage end up homeless, imprisoned, or institutionalized as adults.17  As the Little Hoover Commission observed in 2000, “Despite benevolent intentions and billions of dollars, the government has proved to be a poor surrogate parent. . . . In the end, troubled children often end up as troubled adults. The personal anguish becomes a public calamity.”18

A 2007 study of the effectiveness of the government’s surrogate parenting in foster care reaches sobering conclusions: this study finds that when children named in abuse reports are assigned to social workers with distinctively high removal rates, they are not only more likely to end up in foster care than children assigned to social workers with low removal rates, but they are also distinctively more likely to commit acts of juvenile delinquency, bear a child out of wedlock as a teenager, and report low earnings in subsequent years. The study plausibly interprets these findings as evidence that “children on the margin of placement [in foster care] tend to have better outcomes when they remain at home [that is, not in foster care].”19

Feminist defender of foster care Teresa Toguchi Swartz argues that the risks of abuse in foster care have been exaggerated and sensationalized. But even she concedes, “The concern over a foster-care crisis is justified given the escalating numbers of foster children, the instability of placements, and the poorer health and well-being of
foster children.”20

Without question, the crisis in foster care is real. It is a crisis exposing hundreds of thousands of children to suffering, first because of the abuse and neglect that make foster care necessary, and second because of the frequency with which foster parents then fail to nurture and protect those in their care.

Forsaking the Ideal
The crisis in foster care, one widely acknowledged, is actually only a symptom of a much deeper and more fundamental crisis, one rarely acknowledged publicly. The deeper crisis comes into view only when we recognize the wisdom of British writer G.K. Chesterton’s insistence that “The only way to discuss the social evil is to get at once to the social ideal.”21 The social evil manifest in a bloated and poorly functioning foster-care system filled with hundreds of thousands of vulnerable and often anguished children is all too obvious. But what is the social ideal that should inform our discussions?

The social ideal that should guide all discussions of foster care emerges, indirectly, in a complaint about the difficulty of recruiting suitable foster families in current social circumstances. In a 2001 overview of foster care, children’s rights advocates Kathy Barbell  and Madelyn Freundlich express dismay at how “broad social and economic changes, such as larger numbers of women working out of the home and an increase in single-parent families, have made the recruitment of foster parents more challenging.”22
The social ideal that Barbell and Freundlich here briefly brush against is obvious: a married-couple family with a homemaking mother. Only by keeping that ideal in view can policymakers and social workers deal with the foster-care crisis successfully. In our national failure to affirm that ideal, Americans see deep moral confusion. Indeed, the foster-care crisis must be viewed as only one of the distressing manifestations of this deeper crisis.

In some ways, it may be misleading to speak of the married-couple family with a homemaking mother as an ideal,for the very word ideal may suggest a vision snatched from some philosopher’s otherworldly imagination. In truth, the social pattern evident in a married-couple family with a homemaking mother is a very sturdy natural template, one reinforced by biological impulses and by venerable traditions. Nonetheless, the natural family template is not so sturdy that it cannot be damaged by adverse cultural, economic, and political pressures. And for at least five decades those pressures have worked against this template, making it ever less common, thus making it all too appropriate to speak of it as a social ideal.

From colonial times through the first half of the twentieth century, Americans generally recognized in the married-couple family with a homemaking mother the essential and fundamental unit of society. For many, religious precepts reinforced this understanding of the family (cf. Eph. 5: 22-23; Titus 2: 3-5). And in pre-urban America, the demands of a family farm made such an arrangement practical and even necessary.23  Strangely, however, just as 20th-century social science began amassing a raft of studies clearly establishing that “children living with two biological married parents experience better educational, social, cognitive, and behavioral outcomes than do other children, on average,”24 just thenacademics—for the most part—stopped affirming the married-couple family as a social ideal. Those few professors still willing to affirm that ideal have even found themselves under attack in recent decades. When, for instance, sociologist Norval Glenn actually dared speak out in favor of the intact married-couple family as a social norm, he came under attacks characterized by “a vehemence uncharacteristic of most intellectual and academic debate.”25  Similarly, in his efforts to affirm the social value of the intact family, sociologist David Popenoe has found himself dealing with colleagues who will go to “sad, even heartrending . . . lengths . . . to distort the overwhelming evidence and undeniable truths” about the natural family as they “serve their own agendas.”26  The difficulty of affirming the homemaking mother as a social ideal in the academic world has become even greater, so great, in fact, that university researchers report that it has become difficult for them to publish their research when it documents adverse outcomes of day-care as a replacement for in-home maternal care.27

Though not quite as rare as in academe, affirmations of intact parental marriage as a social ideal in the political world have grown far less frequent in recent years. Indeed, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney drew sharp criticism for having allegedly dealt “a blow to any type of family—particularly single mothers, unmarried mothers who had children out of wedlock, or the LGBT-identified mothers who are apparently invisible in Romney’s world” when he dared to assert that “we need moms and dads, helping to raise kids,” and to affirm “the benefit of having two parents in the home.”28 Meanwhile, the 2012 Obama campaign signaled its hostility towards homemaking wives when a top advisor attacked Romney’s wife, Ann—who was a full-time homemaker and mother of five children—as an economic parasite who had “never worked a day in her life.”29 Obama himself has joined in the attack on the family as he has emptied the very definition of marriage of any moral or social content—except, curiously, the number two (a number that seems quite arbitrary once wedlock no longer means the joining of the two sexes).30

The ideals of the intact married-couple family and the homemaking mother have likewise disappeared from the media. Indeed, even left-leaning journalist Mark Hertsgaard concedes that the media treatment of “social issues” is “the one plausible aspect” of conservatives’ broader complaints of media bias.31 Similarly, the liberal Timothy Noah can generally ignore the evidence long enough to endorse Eric Alterman’s book What Liberal Media? as a refutation of claims of political bias in the media. But even he must concede that Alterman stands on “shakier ground when he examines social bias” in the media’s treatment of family issues.32

Barely present in contemporary politics, the ideal of the natural family is an endangered species in America’s popular entertainment. In primetime television, family-centered shows such as Father Knows Best, My Three Sons, Ozzie and Harriet,and Leave It to Beaver have given way to crime shows such as CSI (in its many incarnations), NCIS, Bones,and Rizzoli and Isles, showsin which marriage and family are almost totally absent. Particularly striking in these newly ubiquitous crime shows is the prominence of women who fight, shoot, and threaten bad guys, but who never marry or bear and rear children and who never affirm the desirability of such life commitments.

The reasons that the ideal of the intact married-couple family—especially the married-couple family with a homemaking mother—no longer matters in academe, media, politics, and entertainment are numerous. But no reason is more important than its displacement by another ideal: what Americans have seen in recent decades is what critic Joseph Epstein has described as the displacement of “the Dream of Family” by “the Dream of Self.”33 The dream of Self, liberating the ego to pursue pleasure and power freed from traditional moral, religious, and familial constraints, is very old, going back, ultimately, to Lucifer’s vaunting boast, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isa. 14:14). But as political scientist Jean Bethke Elshtain has established in her masterful 2006 Gifford Lectures, “the language of control and strong self-sovereignty” has gained new strength in modern times, in part because of the ego-centric theorizing of philosophers such as Descartes, Nietzsche, and Sartre, and in part because of the ego-centric activism of antifamily movements such as “radical feminism.”34

As Elshtain’s scholarship helps make clear, a certain kind of politics has helped kindle the fantasies of the Sovereign Self, so making it much harder to affirm the ideal of the traditional family. Although some of its advocates would resist the label, utopian political thinking has done a great deal to emancipate the Self from the family. As those who have felt the wrath of the modern ideological state—in the Soviet Union, in China, in Cuba, in Cambodia—can forcefully testify, utopian visionaries will cheerfully crush the individual self whenever it gets in their way.35  Nonetheless, as a shrewd political strategy, utopians often encourage men and women to indulge in selfish fantasies that separate them from family loyalties, commitments, and gender roles that interfere with utopian social engineering.36 And when such encouragement proves insufficient, utopians will resort to more forceful measures to undermine marriage, parenthood, and family life.37

The “Dream of Self” and the Foster Care Crisis
Tensions may at times develop between the Dream of Self and the Vision of Utopia. However, both have helped deepen the fundamental crisis—a crisis of moral confusion—behind the foster-care crisis. For both the Dream of Self and the Vision of Utopia have helped to discredit the intact family as a social ideal. In a perverse way, the
foster-care crisis and the broader multiplication of social evils resulting from family disintegration even help intensify the Dream of Self and the Vision of Utopia. The government-led crusade against such evils can actually make it easier to quietly abandon the moral principles essential to sustaining the family as a social ideal. In such crusades, government officials can certify their goodness without the whole-life commitments necessary to sustain the social ideal of an enduring marriage and a strong family. All that is needed in such  crusades against social evils—like those that put children into the foster-care system—are professional expertise, technical acumen, and, inevitably, large amounts of public money.

When, for instance, President Obama proclaims May 2013 Foster Care month, he can express concern over “the issues that bring young people in the child welfare system in the first place,” he can praise “the foster parents and professionals who work every day to lift up the children in their care toward a bright, productive future,” he can promise to “continue to invest in services that strengthen the foster care system.”  But he need not—and does not—acknowledge the intact married-couple family as the social ideal that children really need. The President will join in the crusade to recruit more foster families, hire more social-work professionals, and fund more foster-care programs. But even as he acknowledges children’s need for “the love, protection, and stability of a permanent family,” the President avoids the social ideals of parental marriage and a homemaking mother. In fact, in his assurance that his Administration will see that “every qualified caregiver has the chance to be an adoptive or foster parent,” he shifts the focus away from children’s acute need for married parents to adults’ sometimes problematic demand for an opportunity to care for someone else’s children—an opportunity inevitably accompanied by government money.38

Government officials are certainly justified in using tax money to recruit foster parents as they combat the social evils that land children in foster care. But their fight against those evils will surely land them in moral hazard if they repudiate the intact married-couple family and the homemaking mother as social ideals that benefit children. Critic Heather MacDonald indeed sees serious dysfunction in a foster-care system operated by a professional bureaucracy that “studiously avoids any suggestion that there might be a connection between illegitimacy and family pathologies.”39 Of course, this kind of professional indifference to the intact family as a social ideal surely makes it easier for government officials to recruit foster families in a world reshaped by “broad social and economic changes, such as larger numbers of women working out of the home and an increase in single-parent families.”  Increasingly, in fact, government officials deal with the difficulty of recruiting foster families by simply accepting single parents as foster parents.40 Government foster-care agencies now even pay for the day-care employed foster mothers need when they go off to work.41 In today’s foster-care system the taxpayer is now paying for surrogates for surrogates.

Payment of foster parents is certainly necessary and appropriate. What is more, a great many foster parents give the children in their care a kind of love and nurturance that no amount of money could buy. However, when state officials will not or cannot recognize the married-couple family with a homemaking mother as the ideal foster family, they open the door to some suspect caregivers. State officials indeed almost invite mercenaries when they recruit new foster parents with the promise of financial “reimbursement . . . [that] is liberal and tax-free.”42  Given the aggressiveness with which government officials have had to recruit foster parents in recent decades, it should surprise no one that while social workers report that many foster parents are “highly devoted caregivers,” they also report that “too many foster parents [are] simply ‘in it for the money.’”43

Indeed, the suspicion grows that at least a few government officials regard the foster-care system as part of their political fiefdom and therefore see no benefit in affirming social ideals that would shrink that fiefdom. In analyzing the foster-care crisis, Americans should remember economist Robert Higgs’ compelling demonstration that periods of “crisis” in our nation’s history have occasioned “expansions of governmental power.”44  But whatever political opportunities the foster-care crisis may create for left-leaning activists, that crisis means pain and distress for the children caught in it. Recent studies of those providing foster care to these children should stir fears about their circumstances. A 2008 study concluded that, compared to all American households with children, foster homes were “less likely to be married-couple households, [and] more likely to be single-parent or cohabiting couple households.” Because of the relative absence of fathers in foster homes, it is entirely predictable that these homes would also “have lower average household income” and be “more likely to report receiving public assistance income” than typical American households with children.45 Public officials acknowledge that parents who lose their children to the foster-care network are themselves “by and large . . . very poor single women.”46 Why, then, would government officials create a foster-care system populated by foster parents who are likewise disproportionately poor single women?

No doubt the Obama Administration and others who have set aside the ideal of the intact married-couple family in recruiting foster parents see this as a matter of non-discrimination. Why, they argue, should single men and women not be included among those given “the chance to be . . . [a] foster parent”—and to receive tax-free public money for doing so? Surely it is relevant that studies have established that, in the general population, children in single-parent and cohabiting-couple homes are far more likely to suffer neglect and abuse than are children in married-couple homes.47 Studies also reveal that even when single mothers do not actually neglect or abuse their children, they tend to use decidedly harsher discipline than do married mothers.48 Likewise germane is the research establishing that abuse of alcohol and illegal drugs runs markedly higher among singles than among married peers.49 Ignoring such empirical social science surely means that foster-care children placed with single foster parents are at greater risk of the kind of abuse and neglect that puts them in foster care in the first place.

A foster-care system built by government officials relying on bureaucratic skills, professional expertise, and public money while ignoring or actively repudiating the married-couple family and the homemaking mother as social ideals will inevitably look exactly like the one America actually has. And it will be—it must be—in crisis. For the crisis in that system merely reflects the much deeper and broader crisis of moral confusion, a crisis evident not only among the officials operating the foster-care system but also in a broader society that ignores and even attacks those ideals.

Indeed, the crisis in foster care should have—but has not—occasioned an intense public discussion of how family disintegration has put children at risk. Almost a decade ago, sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin discerned in national marriage statistics evidence of “the deinstitutionalization of American marriage.” Cherlin plausibly suggested at that time that the “the reinstitutionalization of marriage” would “probably . . . require a decrease in women’s labor-force participation.”50 Americans have seen no effort to reinstitutionalize marriage in the years since Cherlin published his study, nor any effort to reduce women’s labor-force participation by rehabilitating marital homemaking as a life choice. Indeed, in 2011 the Pew Research Center announced, “Barely half of all adults in the United States—a record low—are currently married, and the median age at first marriage has never been higher for brides (26.5 years) and grooms (28.7).”51 Meanwhile, though down a couple percentage points since the turn of the century, women’s labor-force participation remains near all-time highs, and is actually at an all-time high among married women with children under age six.52

According to a benchmark 2010 report by sociologist Brad Wilcox and his collaborators, marriage rates remain high among the nation’s well-educated top 30 percent, but have fallen precipitously in recent decades among the less-well-educated next 60 percent.53 A closer look at the situation indicates, however, that the elite actually deserve a large share of the blame for the dramatic retreat from marriage among the less educated and less affluent. As sociologist Christopher Jencks recognized when the retreat from wedlock among the nation’s less-well-situated was still gathering momentum in the late 1980s, “Couples with neither money nor education have always had more trouble keeping their marriages together than more privileged couples.” However, underprivileged couples usually made the extra effort necessary to rear their children within an intact family so long as “almost every ‘respectable’ adult thought unwed parenthood, desertion, and divorce immoral.”54

The Real Victims
The nation’s elites may continue to marry and—in at least a majority of instances—stay married. But their commitment to wedlock appears merely pragmatic. Media commentators, college professors, judges, and political leaders almost never affirm enduring marriage as a social and moral ideal. Instead, even if they themselves do finally marry (or re-marry) and stay married, the nation’s elite often justify—even glamorize—their own and their colleagues’ nonmarital escapades. Far from affirming enduring marriage as a social ideal, the elite often indulge in what Chesterton justly censures as the practice of “preaching their vices.”55

Tragically, it is often not the wealthy who pay the price of this dubious preaching. As political scientist James Q. Wilson has pointed out, elite Americans enjoy sufficient resources to protect themselves and their children from many of the consequences of nonmarital sexuality. Taking the game of Crack the Whip as an apt metaphor, Wilson remarks:

The pleasures of loose sexuality were celebrated by the affluent who wrote articles about sexual freedom or made motion pictures glamorizing the lives of unmarried mothers; the people at the end of the line thought sexuality without marriage was desirable, but there was no place for their children to turn for help. It is hard to keep up at the end of the line.

Wilson thus believes this perverse game of Crack the Whip “may well help us understand why a changed culture—the decline of stigma, the embrace of cohabitation, and the acceptance of divorce—may influence most powerfully the people who did the least to create it.”  “The tolerance and individualism of the affluent,” Wilson asserts, “have exacted a heavy price from the poor.”56

A particularly distressing part of that heavy price is manifest in the anguished faces of the hundreds of thousands of children in foster care. What might seem puzzling about the number of such children is that it has grown during a period of depressed fertility—what commentator Ben Wattenberg memorably labeled “the Birth Dearth.”57 But there is really no mystery here: both the drop in fertility and the rise in the number of abused and neglected children needing foster care signal the moral confusion causing the collapse of a culture that affirmed the family as a social ideal and accordingly made the nurturing of children its highest priority. It is no accident that the day-care industry and the foster-care system have both exploded while fertility has plummeted, reaching an all-time low in the fall of 2011.58 Now the poor watch as many rich couples care for purebred dogs instead of babies,59 while other rich couples have one or two children only to turn them over to day-care workers or nannies. In such a culture, why should poor, single parents worry overmuch about behaviors that put their children in the hands of a different class of parental surrogates—namely, foster parents?

Not surprisingly, research has shown that even children in high-quality day care suffer from psychological and medical problems found less often among children cared for at home.60 But public commentators almost never connect the social evil of day-care-related problems (rarely even acknowledged) with the social evils manifest in the foster-care crisis. (To his credit, the aging scholar Jacques Barzun did break the academic code of silence on the issue by calling the day-care child a “semi-orphan.”61) More broadly, very few commentators bewailing the foster-care crisis have acknowledged that the social evils evident in foster care are simply a distillation of the more diffuse evils suffered by children throughout the population whenever parental marriages fail (or do not form in the first place)62 and whenever children lose a homemaking mother.63 But in a culture so morally confused that it no longer affirms intact parental marriages and homemaking mothers as social ideals, it becomes harder to recognize the connections between different types of social evils affecting children.

Some activists will dismiss any attempt to revive the ideals of the married couple family and of the homemaking mother as an exercise in nostalgia, a siphoning off of energy and resources that should be devoted to battling pressing social problems, such as the foster-care crisis. But as Oxford philosopher Basil Mitchell has pointed out, when government officials try to deal with social problems without affirming the social ideal of an enduring parental marriage, they invariably “weaken the moral ties which bind society together.” The inescapable consequence is

an increasingly heavy burden upon the State apparatus. The process is cumulative—the greater the number of marriage breakdowns, the greater the number of one-parent families in need of support; the greater the number of sexual relationships in which no definite responsibilities are assumed; the greater the insecurity of any children born to them; while in turn the official acceptance of such relationships, combined with an emphasis on the needs of children as the sole consideration tends inevitably to diminish the standing of marriage. . . . So there are more casualties for the State to rescue, and the more single-mindedly it concentrates on this task, the more unmanageable the task becomes.64

Americans who truly care about the well-being of the nation’s children will recognize in the foster-care crisis exactly the perverse dynamics that Mitchell describes. Real progress in resolving this crisis requires—as Chesterton understood—a strong affirmation of the social ideals that sustain parental marriages and family life. It is the moral confusion that prevents our cultural elites from affirming these ideals that constitutes the deeper crisis behind the foster-care crisis.

Much is at stake in resolving this deeper crisis. A nation must fight social evils, but it also must affirm social ideals. More than the affirmation of such ideals, America needs their living embodiment. Above all, the nation’s children need intact, strong families; they need homemaking married mothers.

Americans are right to see a threat in the social evils that have swollen the foster-care crisis. But we face a far greater threat in the disappearance of the social goods found only in strong marriages and strong families. As Chesterton warns, “When . . . the good things in a society no longer work . . . the society begins to decline.”65 Americans cannot avoid social decline simply by fighting social evil with programs, expertise, and resources. We can avoid decline and foster real progress only by affirming marriage and homemaking mothers as social ideals, as “good things” of inestimable worth.

Bryce J. Christensen, Ph.D., is contributing editor to The Family in America and associate professor of English at Southern Utah University.

1 Miller qtd. in Robert H. Bremner, “Other People’s Children,” Journal of Social History 16.3 (1983): 96.

2 Cf. Kathy Barbell and Madelyn Freundlich, Foster Care Today (Washington, D.C.: Casey Family Programs, 2001): Table 1, 2.

3 Groninger qtd. in Laurie Smith Anderson, “Children Reach Out for Homes,” Advocate,April 14, 1998, 9A.

4 Barbell and Freundlich, Foster Care Today.

5 Cf. “Kids’ Troubles Multiply,” Charlotte Observer,May 30, 1999, 1A.

6 Cf. “Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, P.L. 105-89: Overview,” Child Welfare Information Gateway, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families, 1997, Web.

7 “Foster Care Statistics 2011,” Child Welfare Information Gateway, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families, January 2013, Web.

8 Claire Pomeroy, “Foster Care Youth: The Faces of a Nation’s Soul in Crisis,” Huffington Post, May 22, 2013, Web.

9 “Foster Care—Children Served During Reporting Period by Placement Reason,” Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2013, Web.

10 Pomeroy, “Foster Care Youth.”

11 Ibid.

12 Cf. “The Taking of Logan Marr: Failure to Protect,” Frontline, PBS, January 30, 2013, Web.

13 Cf. “Following Death of Infant, Independent Review of Virginia Child Welfare Reveals Shortcomings,” CR Featured News Events, Children’s Rights, July 20, 2012, Web.

14 “Failed to Death: Alize Vick,” 9News.Com, Multimedia Holdings Corporation, November 11, 2012, Web.

15 Cf. Richard Wexler, “Foster Care: Less is Better,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 14, 2000, G1.

16 Cf. Jeffrey S. Harman, George E. Childs, and Kelly J. Kelleher, “Mental Health Care Utilization and Expenditures by Children in Foster Care,” Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 154 (2000): 1,114-17; Abraham B. Bergman, “The Shame of Foster Care Health Services,” Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 154 (2000): 1,080-1.

17 Ezra Susser et al., “Childhood Experiences of Homeless Men,” American Journal of Psychiatry 144 (1987): 1,599-1,601; Peter Marquis, “Family Dysfunction as a Risk Factor in the Development of Antisocial Behavior,” Psychological Reports 71 (1992): 468-70; Bryce Christensen, “Fostering Confusion: What the ‘Foster-Care Crisis’ Really Means,” The Family in America 15.5 (2001): 1-8.

18 Little Hoover Commission qtd. in Lynda Gledhill, “Demos Want to Fix Foster Care,” The San Francisco Chronicle, March 8,2001, A6.

19 Joseph J. Doyle, Jr., “Protection and Child Outcomes: Measuring the Effects of Foster Care,” The American Economic Review 97.5 (2007): 1,583-1,610.

20 Teresa Toguchi Swartz, “Mothering for the State: Foster Care and the Challenges of Government-Contracted Carework,” Gender and Society 18.5 (2004): 569.

21 G.K. Chesterton, “The Medical Mistake,” What’s Wrong with the World (1910), Project Gutenberg, 2008, Web.

22 Barbell and Freundlich, Foster Care Today,19.

23 Cf. Allan C. Carlson, The New Agrarian Mind: The Movement Toward Decentralist Thought in Twentieth-Century America  (New Brunswick: Transaction, 2000): 180-4.

24 Susan L. Brown, “Marriage and Child Well-Being: Research and Policy Perspectives,” Journal of Marriage and Family 72.5 (2010): 1,059-77; cf. also studies cited in Allan C. Carlson and Paul T. Mero, The Natural Family: A Manifesto (Dallas: Spence, 2007): 228-49.

25 Norval Glenn, “A Plea for Objective Assessment of the Notion of Family Decline,” Journal of Marriage and Family 55 (1993): 543.

26 David Popenoe, “Ideology Trumps Social Science,” American Psychologist (June 2000): 679.

27 Cf. Brian C. Robertson, Day-Care Deception (San Francisco: Encounter, 2003): 6-47.

28 Tara Culp-Ressler, “Five Ways Romney Alienated Women,” ThinkProgress, Center for American Progress Action Fund, October 17, 2012, Web.

29 Cf. Jennifer Rubin, “Attacking Ann Romney—Yeah, That’s the Ticket,” The Washington Post, April 12, 2012, Web.

30 Cf. Jeffrey S. Oliver, “Marathon of Deletions: The Dedefinition of Art and Marriage,” Modern Age 54.1-4 (2012):  63-76.

31 Mark Hertsgaard, The Eagle’s Shadow:  Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World (New York: Picador, 2002): 93-4.

32 Timothy Noah, “Bias Schmias,” Rev. of What Liberal Media? by Eric Alterman, Washington Monthly, March 2003, Web.

33 Joseph Epstein, Divorced in America: Marriage in an Age of Possibility (Baltimore: Penguin, 1975): 316.

34 Jean Bethke Elshtain, Sovereignty: God, State, and Self (New York: Basic, 2008): 101, 174-86, 198-204.

Cf. Becky L. Glass and Margaret K. Stolee, “Family Law in Soviet Russia 1917-1945,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 49 (1987): 893-901.

36 Cf. Aldous Huxley, Foreword to Brave New World (New York: Perennial Library/Harper & Row, 1946): xvii.

37 Cf. Bryce Christensen, “The Family in Utopia,” Renascence 44.1 (1991): 31-43.

38 Barack Obama, “Presidential Proclamation—National Foster Care Month, 2013,” The White House, April 30, 2013, Web.

39 Heather MacDonald, “The Ideology of ‘Family Preservation,’” The Public Interest 115 (Spring 1994): 45-60.

40 Cf. “Frequently Asked Questions about Fostering and Adopting,” Department of Children & Families, The State of Connecticut, 2013, Web.

41 Cf. “Financial Information: Day Care for Foster Children,” Policy Manual: Treatment, Foster Care, State of Connecticut, Department of Children and Families, June 1, 2002.

42 Foster-family agency official qtd. in Will Thompson, “A Crisis in Foster Care Prompts a Call for ‘Parents,’” Philadelphia Inquirer,November 13, 1988.

43 Cf. Jill Duerr Berrick, “Assessing Quality of Care in Kinship and Foster Family Care,” Family Relations 46.3 (1997): 274.

44 Robert Higgs, Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987): 18.

45 William P. O’Hare, “Data on Children in Foster Care from the Census Bureau,” Kids Count, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, June 2008, Web.

46 “Washington State Foster Care: The Parents,” Data Dashboard, Partners for Our Children, University of Washington, School of Social Work, 2010, Web.

47 Cf. Andrew J. Sedlak et al., Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect [NIS-4]: Report to Congress (Washington: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, 2010); R. J. Gelles, “Child Abuse and Violence in Single-Parent Families: Parent Absence and Economic Deprivation,” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 59.4 (1989): 492-501.

48 Cf. Jane D. McLeod and Michael J. Shanahan, “Poverty, Parenting, and Children’s Mental Health,” American Sociological Review 58 (1993): 351-66; Michelle L. Kelley, Janis Sanchez-Hucles, and Regina R. Walker, “Correlates of Disciplinary Practices in Working-to-Middle-Class African-American Mothers,” Merrill-Palmer Quarterly 39 (1993): 252-62.

49 Cf. “Marital Status and Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions: 2005,” The DASIS Report, the Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, December 30, 2008, Web.

50 Andrew J. Cherlin, “The Deinstitutionalization of American Marriage,” Journal of Marriage and Family 66.4 (2004): 857.

51 D’Vera Cohn et al., “Barely Half of U.S. Adults Are Married—A Record Low; New Marriages Down 5% from 2009 to 2010,” Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends Project, Pew Research Center, December 14, 2011, Web.

52 “Labor Force Participation Rate—Women” (2013-07), FRED Economic Data, Economic Research, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, August 2, 2013, Web; “Labor Force Participation Rates for Wives, Husband Present, by Age of Own Youngest Child: 1990-2009,” Table 600, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012, United States Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, August 31, 2012, Web.

53 Brad Wilcox et al., When Marriage Disappears: The New Middle America, The State of Our Unions: Marriage in America 2010 (Charlottesville: The National Marriage Project/The University of Virginia, 2010): ix.

54 Christopher Jencks, “Deadly Neighborhoods,” Rev. of William Julius Wilson, “The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy,” The New Republic, June 13, 1988: 23–32.

55 G.K. Chesterton, “Divorce vs. Democracy,” The Collected Works of G.K Chesterton, George J. Marlin et al., eds. (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1986) 4: 423.

56 James Q. Wilson, The Marriage Problem: How Our Culture Has Weakened Families (New York: HarperCollins, 2002): 211–20.

57 Ben J. Wattenberg, The Birth Dearth (New York: Pharos, 1987): 127-30.

58 Cf. Brady E. Hamilton, Joyce A. Martin, and Stephanie J. Ventura, “Births: Preliminary Data for 2011,” National Vital Statistics Reports 61.5 (2012): 2.

59 Cf. Jennifer Wing, “Why Does Seattle Have So Few Kids and So Many Dogs?” I Wonder Why. . . ? KPIU, National Public Radio, 2012, Web.

60 Cf. NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, “Child Care and Children’s Peer Interaction at 24 and 36 Months: The NICHD Study of Early Child Care,” Child Development 72 (2001): 1,478-1,520; Kathryn Tout et al., “Social Behavior Correlates of Cortisol Activity in Child Care: Gender Differences and Time-of-Day Effects,” Child Development 69 (1998): 1,247-62; David M. Bell, “Illness Associated with Child Day Care: A Study of Incidence and Cost,” American Journal of Public Health 79 (1989): 479-83.

61 Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present (New York: HarperCollins, 2000): 794.

62 Cf. Callie E. Langton and Lawrence M. Berger, “Family Structure and Adolescent Physical Health, Behavior, and Emotional Well-Being,” Social Service Review 85.3 (2011): 323-57; Deborah A. Dawson, “Family Structure and Children’s Health, United States, 1988,” Vital and Health Statistics Series 10: 178 (Hyattsville: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, 1988): 1-3.

63 P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale and Margaret Tresch Owen, “Maternal Employment in a Family Context: Effects on Infant-Mother and Infant-Father Attachments,” Child Development 58 (1987): 1,505-10; Frank P. Stafford, “Women’s Work, Sibling Competition, and Children’s School Performance,” The American Economic Review 77 (1987): 972-80; Steven L. Nock and Paul W. Kingston, “Time with Children: The Impact of Couples’ Work-Time Commitments,” Social Forces 67 (1988): 59-85.

64 Basil Mitchell, Why Public Policy Cannot Be Morally Neutral: The Current Confusion About Pluralism, The Social Affairs Unit, 1989.

65 G.K. Chesterton, Everlasting Man, Collected Works, 2: 285.