America’s Hidden Foster Care System

In most states, child protection agencies induce parents to transfer physical custody of their children to kinship caregivers by threatening to place the children in foster care and bring them to family court. Both the frequency of these actions (this Article establishes that they occur tens or even hundreds of thousands of times annually) and their impact (they separate parents and children, sometimes permanently) resemble the formal foster care system. But they are hidden from courts, because agencies file no petition alleging abuse or neglect, and hidden from policymakers, because agencies do not generally report these cases. 

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