Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Redefining Family Policy: Implications for the 21st Century

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Redefining Family Policy: Implications for the 21st Century

Article excerpt

Redefining Family Policy: Implications for the 21st Century. Joyce M. Mercier, Stephen B. Garasky, & Mack C. Shelley II (Eds.). Ames: Iowa State University Press. 2000. 286 pp. ISBN 0-8138-2590-3. $54.95 cloth.

The chapters of this book include the history of family policy in presidential administrations, political culture of states, family policy in Japan, use of ethnographic research in public policy, the role of child care in welfare reform, high-quality infant and toddler care, foster parent training, access to health care among older persons, re-examination of high-risk (elderly) drivers, out-ofhome placements of children, wage withholding child support programs, housing policy, and assessing future policy research.

To begin, I applaud Mercier, Garasky, and Shelley for publishing a family policy book. Anyone who teaches family policy is keenly aware of the scarcity of books that cover multiple topic areas. One challenge involves the special effort needed to keep information current, because information is constantly transforming with new trends, elections, and legislative changes. This book discusses current issues in family policy and the political climate. A discussion of Aid for Families with Dependent Children is still somewhat prevalent, where one wishes for more research on the legislation that replaced it. Much of the theme involves suggestions of how conditions might change with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, but little evidence of what has actually happened since the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act was enacted in 1996.

Although the book is worthwhile, it can be critiqued in three areas. First, there is an odd organization of papers with topics that don't seem to belong together. A few chapters in the center of the book relate to children and hang together with a common theme of the expected response to welfare reform legislation, but they are not even organized into the same section. The well-written chapter on pronatalist policy attempts in Japan stands alone in its international focus, but it is grouped with other topics. It would have been helpful to have other international family policy perspectives represented in this book, because it is important for students and scholars to understand how the United States compares to other industrialized and developing nations. …

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