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No Way to Treat A Child

The American child welfare system is bent toward protecting adults, not children. Kids in danger are treated instrumentally to promote the rehabilitation of their parents, the welfare of their communities, and the social justice of their race and tribe  — all with the inevitable result that their most precious developmental years are lost in bureaucratic and judicial red tape.


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Anyone who cares about the disappeared children of America should read this book. I don’t know of any writer who reports as deeply and writes as honestly as Naomi Schaefer Riley. She is one of the few who will tell the truth about what really goes on in the lives of children who have been removed from their parents’ care by the state. Sent from placement to placement—and school to school—they suffer emotional and educational  losses that can’t be repaired.

—Caitlin Flanagan, staff writer, The Atlantic

1/ 4



Naomi Schaefer Riley brings to the forefront a crucial question, which is foundational to the design of a compassionate and safe child welfare system in the United States. Her analysis and keen insights are more than worth a read. Her dedication and passion for this work continue to inspire me.

—Mary L. Landrieu, former U.S. Senator (D-LA)

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We want the best for kids, especially the most vulnerable. But as Naomi Schaefer Riley masterfully and heartbreakingly shows in her gripping new book, we aren’t getting even close. More than a tale of woe, however, this book shows the way to a better future for the people who are our future.”

—Arthur C. Brooks, Professor, Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School

3/ 4



With a journalist’s eye for detail and a scientist’s command of evidence, Riley describes how a system mired in reckless idealism, disinformation, and bigotry has abandoned its mission to protect society’s most vulnerable members. This is bracing, powerful stuff. Her provocative call to action should inspire decent people of all backgrounds, faiths, and identities to reform a disgraceful system.

—Erika Christakis, author of The Importance of Being Little and foster/adoptive parent

4/ 4

Naomi Schaefer Riley

About The Author

Naomi Schaefer Riley is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where she focuses on issues regarding child welfare; a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum; and a writer who examines parenting, higher education, religion, philanthropy, and culture. She is a former columnist for the New York Post and has worked as a Wall Street Journal editor and writer. She is the author of six books, including ‘Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage Is Transforming America (Oxford University Press, 2013), which was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice.


Naomi’s research focuses on ways to improve the foster care system and protect children. Read more about various foster care organizations and resources for caregivers.


Faith Bridge Foster care

Harvard Law School Child Advocacy Clinic

Connect Our Kids

One More Child

Children’s Data Network

Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children

Social Change Partners


Jewish Child Care Association

Christian Alliance for Orphans

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent or want to get involved learn more by visiting these resources.

Child Welfare Information Gateway

Count Appointed Special Advocates for Children

Naomi writes about the role of faith-based organizations helping children in “No Way to Treat a Child”. Visit the resources and conferences below to learn more about these organizations

Focus on the Family

City Journal article on Church-based programs helping children

Replanted Conference

The Refresh Conference

Show Hope Conference

Care Portal

Immerse Arkansas

The Call

Gen Justice

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