An experienced psychologist's confusing view from the bridge that connects children and families in crisis with the...


TURMOIL TO TURNING POINTS: Building Hope for Children in Crisis Placements

An experienced psychologist's confusing view from the bridge that connects children and families in crisis with the professionals who try to help them. Now a consultant, Kagan has spent 20 years working with children and dysfunctional families; his grim stories are reminiscent of the tragic cases that appear with stunning regularity in the news. He focuses on troubled children and children in danger, those who are victims of physical or sexual abuse. These children are placed away from their families until more permanent arrangements--with foster families or group homes, for instance--can be made. Mandated by state laws and federal directive, the long-term goal is to return these children to their families once the perpetrators of abuse or the circumstances triggering abuse have been eliminated. Kagan weaves case histories together with theory, and offers a convincing portrait of the frustrations faced by social service workers innundated by paperwork, sometimes tripping over each other's efforts. Although the children's stories--from a three-year-old victim of sexual abuse to a child whose grandfather was also his father--are frequently heart-rending, they are composites, as are the workers, families, and organizations described here. Kagan's compassionate strategy, to honor the child's wish to reunite with mother and/or father while striving to modify the behavior in the family that caused the trauma, is presented here in too diffuse a fashion. Concluding chapters are a pastiche of ideas on how to fix the system and techniques for social workers. Suggestions on strategy, organization, and training are too specific for the lay reader and not comprehensive enough for the professional. Too bad. Two decades of stories from an experienced and creative therapist should have led to a clearer picture of the issues that affect children in danger and a more focused agenda for improving their safety net than one finds here.

Pub Date: July 22, 1996


Page Count: 256

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996