Mona Charen

radically about overhauling the child welfare system. The foster care idea is a failure. Too many children fall through the cracks. States do not have the capacity to make judgments about the fitness of hundreds of thousands of foster parents, who -- unlike biological parents -- have no natural bond to the child. While the system works for some, it is an absolute nightmare for far too many.

A much better solution for children who cannot be raised by their biological parents or adopted (the Jacksons were a grotesque exception to the rule of adoptive parents being loving and responsible) is boarding school. In several states, including Minnesota, large-scale experiments with boarding schools have already begun.

There are many advantages. A good boarding school can give children the kind of permanence the foster care system rarely provides. And instead of having overworked caseworkers driving from place to place every day, attempting to discover through home visits whether foster parents are doing an adequate job, the state can hire staff who are professional and committed to children's welfare.

A variety of sports teams, music education and cultural enrichment can be provided to the children, as well as regular classes (though it may be overoptimistic to think that the education would be any better than it is at other government schools).

The cost would be about the same as subsidizing children in the foster care system, or perhaps a bit more. But if it costs more, so be it. Reforming welfare costs more than not reforming it would have, but in the long run we are better off for it -- financially probably, and morally certainly.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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