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Travels in the Trench Between 
Child Welfare Theory and Practice

by George Thomas

Presented online in collaboration with the author and Haworth Press by The Child Abuse Prevention Network

Acknowlegements  This work is an exposition of what I think now after having scrutinized the meaning in my travels in the child welfare field. What I think is of my own doing, but how I think I owe to many others I have met in my travels who firmly believed in cultivating an inquiring state of mind and who possessed the remarkable capacity to stimulate others to pursue the same goal.

I think first of Rita Comarda at Tulane University who permitted me the freedom to learn from my own boneheaded mistakes. This caused me some grief, but it probably caused her far more grief than the "pain in the tail" she occasionally complained about in my presence.

Then there were Martin Loeb and Alfred Kadushin at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Martin, forever cantankerous in posing alternative views, stretched the mind beyond the comforts of single-mindedness and made doing battle with one's thoughts and presumptions an ingrained habit, if not an always pleasurable one. Al Kadushin provided leavening for the exhilaration of free pursuit and cantankerous battle by epitomizing in his work the finest qualities a true scholar has to offer-reasoned fair play and thoroughness in sifting fact from fancy.

Finally there was Margaret Blenkner-my "boss"-a term I still use with affection to describe her. Small-mindedness was Margaret's foe, and in making it my own I found broader vistas and better ways to understand events by placing them into context.

Whether what I have said in this book is deemed the product of an open mind or not is open to questioning, but whether these outstanding people, and more like them beyond mention, did their level best to implant that frame of mind in me is not. For this I will remain permanently in their debt.

I am also indebted to a half-dozen contemporary colleagues whose work I deeply respect and whose kindness in taking time to review draft copies of parts or all of this work I deeply appreciate. I have thanked them all privately, and with respect for their privacy I will not name them here. I see no good reason to link them to a work that is entirely my responsibility, warts and all. They are, of course, free to publicly expose themselves to whatever acclaim or rebuff might come their way by declaring a connection with this work.

Thanks also go to Doug Magnuson, whose diligence and candor in editing the manuscript made an immense difference in its readability, and to Jerry Beker, who saw enough merit in it to see it through to publication.

In the end, I am indebted most to my wife Freida and three fine young men: Our sons Brian, Zack, and Dominic. My debt to them is not so much for their support while I was writing this, which amounted mostly to tolerant and bemused querying of a "what's he doing now," sort; rather, it is a debt beyond repaying for the love and fun of living and growing together all these years outside the Trench that made my travels within it seem worthwhile.


George Thomas

Athens, GA


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