By Ian Keldoulis
2019, ISBN: 978-0-9996572-3-2, 96 pages, $30 hardback, $18 paperback, $9.99 Kindle
It was a chance encounter between a young priest and a 16-year-old without a home or family that launched a lifelong mission to help kids in foster care for Father Paul Engel. That young priest took it upon himself to find a home for that 16-year-old so he could have a safe place to live while he finished high school and successfully launch into adulthood. The new book “America’s Youngest Hostages,” chronicles that chance meeting and what came from it – the creation of Downey Side, an adoption agency that specializes in finding homes for children ages 7-17 in the foster care system. The organization has evolved over the years and expanded, but its work is never far from its original mission.
“America’s Youngest Hostages” is a historical look at not only the organization, but the reforms being made over generations in several states on the East Coast. The book explores the current movement toward prevention services to prevent foster care in the first place and how Downey Side and others have worked to find solutions for the more than 400,000 youth currently in foster care.
The book is a quick read and an interesting look at one organization’s approach to the foster care system. All proceeds of the book support Downey Side’s mission of finding permanent families for older children in foster care, which seems like a nice mission to support while gaining historical background about the foster care system.
— Reviewed by Kim Phagan-Hansel