Synopses & Reviews
IIn 1973, a young ACLU attorney filed a controversial class-action lawsuit that challenged New York Citys operation of its foster-care system. The plaintiff was an abused runaway named Shirley Wilder who had suffered from the systems inequities. Wilder
, as the case came to be known, was waged for two and a half decades, becoming a battleground for the conflicts of race, religion, and politics that shape Americas child-welfare system.
The Lost Children of Wilder gives us the galvanizing history of this landmark case and the personal story at its core. Nina Bernstein takes us behind the scenes of far-reaching legal and legislative battles, but she also traces the life of Shirley Wilder and her son, Lamont, born when Shirley was only fourteen and relinquished to the very system being challenged in her name. Bernsteins account of Shirley and Lamonts struggles captures the heartbreaking consequences of the child welfare systems best intentions and deepest flaws. In the tradition of There Are No Children Here, this is a major achievement of investigative journalism and a tour de force of social observation, a gripping book that will haunt every reader who cares about the needs of children.
In the tradition of J. Anthony Lukas and Alex Kotlowitz, a top-notch investigative reporter presents a harrowing account of our failed child-welfare system and reveals the human cost of that failure.
The Lost Children of Wilder is the story of a long-running–and only partially successful–lawsuit that challenged the basic fairness of New York’s foster care system. It’s also the story of a family trapped in the system: Shirley Wilder, in whose name the lawsuit was filed, who entered foster care at 12; her son, Lamont, whom she gave birth to at 14; and his own son, whom he is barely able to support. This comprehensive account of their troubled lives and the impact they have had on the way welfare works is destined to be a classic.
About the Author
Nina Bernstein lives in New York City.