How ‘Shadow’ Foster Care Is Tearing Families Apart

Lizzie Presser - The New York Times

It would take years before Molly and Heaven would learn that neither of them was ever in the foster system. Instead, caseworkers had diverted them to what some scholars call “hidden foster care” or “shadow foster care,” in which the legal protections of the formal system disappear. In the traditional child-welfare system, caseworkers investigate reports of mistreatment to make sure a child is safe. The department must try to keep children at home, but if staff members find that the danger is too great, they file for legal custody.