Book about Foster Youth Wins Literary Award

On Their Own, a new book about life after foster care wins award. From Jim Casey Youth Initiatives site:

“On Their Own: What Happens to Kids When They Age Out of the Foster Care System” is a winner of the Pro Humanitate Literary Award, North America’s premier literary award for the field of child welfare. The book was written by Martha Shirk, a former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Gary Stangler, executive director of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative.

Bestowed by the Center for Child Welfare Policy of the North American Resource Center for Child Welfare, the award recognizes literary works that “exemplify the intellectual integrity and moral courage required to transcend political and social barriers to promote “best practice‿ in the field of child welfare,‿ according to Ronald C. Hughes, director of the center.

Another book, “Children in Foster Care,‿ by James G. Barber and Paula H. Delfabbro, tied with “On Their Own‿ for the 2005 Daniel Douglas Schneider Book Award and Prize. The two books were selected by a panel of peers. The awards ceremony will take place September 30 at the Child Welfare League of America’s New England Regional Training & National Child Care and Development Conference in Providence, R.I.

“On Their Own‿ (Westview Press, 2004) puts a human face on a largely invisible population. Shirk and Stangler tell the story through the lives of ten children who did not have a safety net once they were out of foster care but relied on survival skills. With a foreword by former President Jimmy Carter, the book also offers solutions, especially about education, health care, and employment.

Here’s the review from Booklist:

Foster care is designed to provide for children up until the age of 18, but what happens after that? Shirk and Stangler note in the introduction to their study that in today’s society, young people don’t tend to reach full maturity until their mid-twenties, and most children leaving foster care aren’t even equipped with the basic tools (a high-school diploma, a driver’s license or state ID, work experience) the average 18-year-old possesses. Shirk and Stangler examined several individual cases in various states to see how well the children faired. One chapter examines three brothers whose fates diverged: one is currently in jail for armed robbery, another died in a car crash, and the third is happily married with a new business. One young woman makes it through a series of foster homes and high schools to earn a hard-won college degree and a position as a teacher, while one young man yearns for a family but keeps running afoul of the law. Jimmy Carter provides the forward for this important and often heart-wrenching book. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From the Foreword by President Jimmy Carter
“‘On Their Own’ is a must-read account… for all Americans who care about children.”

— President Jimmy Carter

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