Often compared to the fictitious Jarndyce v.
A brilliant, moving chronicle of a bright little girl named Shirley Wilder and the dogged lawyer…who tried to The lost children of wilder her a home. Its legal analysis is rich…the drama is human. A truly compelling read. You started The Lost Children of Wilder nearly 8 years ago.
When did you first hear of the Wilder case, and what prompted you to write a book about it? There, buried in the stack of documents, was a fact that haunted me: Shirley Wilder, 13 years old when the class action lawsuit was filed inhad given birth to a son the following year and had placed him in foster care.
I wanted to know what had happened to that baby. I was convinced that his story, which had been unfolding in secret while the lawsuit was being waged in court and at city hall, would be an extraordinary window on the foster care system, and on a passionate legal crusade to fix it.
As a reporter I had written about foster care on and off in different states for about as long as the Wilder case had been in court, and had been frustrated that overall, the problems these children faced just seemed to be redefined by reform movements, rather than solved.
I wanted to dig deeper for the reasons. Once I began, the human drama in this case, its many layers of history, politics and legal conflict, and its enduring relevance, all compelled me to write this book. Sincewhen attorney Marcia Lowry first filed suit on behalf of Shirley Wilder and 5 other children who suffered at the hands of the foster care system, there have been enormous changes—both positive and negative—in the system.
Where do things stand now? What do you foresee in the future? Unfortunately, both in New York and nationwide, the system still hurts many of the children it is supposed to help. Today well over half a million children in the U.
Like Lamont, thousands nationally are legal orphans — that is, they have been permanently cut off from their own parents, but they have not yet been adopted, and many never will be.
On average these kids are between 7 and 8 now, and almost two-thirds are black or Hispanic. They have been waiting in foster care since they were 3 or 4, typically shuttled from one caregiver to another, just like Lamont. On the other hand, many children who entered the child welfare system in the s during the crack epidemic are now aging out, and the extra influx triggered by a few notorious child abuse deaths has subsided.
The new reform movement is mainly shaped by a federal law intended to boost adoptions, which was supported by Hilary Clinton, among others. The problem is that while the number of adoptions has risen, the number of children legally orphaned has grown even faster.
I expect the overall numbers in care to begin to fall nationally, as they have in New York City, the peak was 49, children in care in and the low was 16, inbut in the absence of systemic change, the next cycle may be far worse. Whatever the successes of the welfare overhaul ofit has only been tested in a good economy.
For the first time since the New Deal of the s, federal law makes no guarantee of basic economic support to children living in their own families. But it does still mandate efforts to protect children from maltreatment, and it guarantees financial support for poor children placed in out-of-home care.
That means the next real economic downturn could bring a flood tide of children into the system. One result was that children like Shirley Wilder — black, Protestant kids in dire need of a loving home — either were left to suffer without intervention, or were sent by default to dangerous shelters and harsh reformatories.
What policies are now in place to prevent these discriminations? After litigating the case for fifteen years, Lowry won a court decree establishing the principle that every child, no matter what his race or creed, should have an equal shot at the best the system had to offer.
But the court battles for enforcement dragged on for years. Just the filing of Wilder had a dramatic impact, because by challenging existing arrangements on constitutional grounds, the case made them newly visible, propelling some public officials and agency board members to make changes.
And the demographics of need kept shifting. Bypoor children in New York City were so overwhelmingly children of color that old-line foster care agencies could hardly give priority to white children of their own religion and hope to stay in business.
New African-American and Hispanic-run agencies had arisen, too. Children were being shuttled through dozens of different placements in a single month. Brothers and sisters were wrenched apart; babies were left for months on hospital wards for lack of homes. And, it turned out, African-American caseworkers were sorting children by skin shade and hair texture, with lighter kids more likely to get a better placement.
Bottom line, as the number of children needing care soared, agencies automatically began to pick and choose the most "desirable. Where did you find Lamont? How did he feel about his childhood?The Lost Children of Wilder "The Lost Children of Wilder" is a book about how the foster care system failed to give children of color the facilities that would help them lead a .
"The Lost Children of Wilder" doesn't have much to do with racism. It's mostly about the attitude towards foster care and adoption in the USA. With a high birthrate among poor teenage girls, along with a lack of birth control, we have a big population of orphans/5(19).
Sherman’s efforts on Shirley’s behalf, discussed in Chapter One of The Lost Children of Wilder, presents a highly-dedicated and capable advocate on behalf of children caught up on the state.
"The Lost Children of Wilder" is a wrenching account of that foster care system's disasters, oversights and tragedies. Nina Bernstein, a reporter for The New York Times, has compiled a brilliant, moving chronicle of a bright little girl named Shirley Wilder and the .
About The Lost Children of Wilder. In Marcia Lowry, a young civil liberties attorney, filed a controversial class-action suit that would come to be known as Wilder, which challenged New York City’s operation of its foster-care system. The Lost Children of Wilder is insightful and riveting, illuminating both the political and the personal.
David Rothman In this first-rate investigation, New York Times reporter Bernstein explores the genesis and aftermath of the landmark legal case filed by young ACLU attorney Marcia Lowry against the New York State foster-care system.