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Forsaking our Children

Bureaucracy and Reform in the Child Welfare System

Author:

John M. Hagedorn

Forsaking our Children

This is a wonderfully clear and engaging account of the author’s experiences as a reform-minded administrator in the Milwaukee social service bureaucracy. But it is more than that. John Hagedorn brings a sharp intelligence and nice erudition to his analysis of these experiences. The contemporary attack on the very idea of social provision should not be an excuse for ignoring the tangle of problems which have distorted the administration of social services—ultimately making social provision far more vulnerable to attack.

Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward, co-authors of Regulating the Poor

Forsaking our Children

John M. Hagedorn is associate professor of criminal justice and senior research fellow at Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois, Chicago. He is editor of Gangs in the Global City; co-editor of Female Gangs in America: Essays on Girls, Gangs, and Gender; and author of A World of Gangs and the highly influential People and Folks: Gangs, Crime, and the Underclass in a Rustbelt City.

Forsaking our Children

This is a solution-offering book. The chord struck is the fate of children, and the question of whether children receive the services they need and deserve. Hagedorn’s solutions make sense. He’s not asking for more money, just more imagination and, shall we say, vision.

Los Angeles Times

This is a wonderfully clear and engaging account of the author’s experiences as a reform-minded administrator in the Milwaukee social service bureaucracy. But it is more than that. John Hagedorn brings a sharp intelligence and nice erudition to his analysis of these experiences. The contemporary attack on the very idea of social provision should not be an excuse for ignoring the tangle of problems which have distorted the administration of social services—ultimately making social provision far more vulnerable to attack.

Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward, co-authors of Regulating the Poor

This book offers a powerful portrait of the challenges of implementing reform in public social service bureaucracies. John Hagedorn’s thesis—that social service bureaucracies do not just take on a life of their own, independent of the social objectives they are intended to address, but are actively and deliberately self-serving—is worthy of serious attention from the policy and practice communities. His argument that future reform efforts have to focus far more on what it would take to alter the structures and conditions of frontline practice is a good one.

Robert Halpern, Professor, Erikson Institute for Advanced Study in Child Development

Forsaking Our Children is an unusual and important book about very tough issues. Hagedorn persuasively argues that the social work profession has been a major barrier to building effective anti-poverty programs. He asks the social work community to look inside itself and decide whether it is really doing any good. Anyone who cares about our system of child welfare should read this book.

Henry S. Webber, University of Chicago