Assessing the Impact of Goldstein, Freud, and Solnit’s Proposals: An Introductory Overview


The year 1973 saw the publication of a slim volume entitled Beyond the Best Interests of the Child. The book, by Goldstein, Freud, and Solnit proposed a set of simple guidelines for judicial decision-making in dispositions involving children. In 1979 a second book appeared entitled Before theBest Interests of the Child, in which these same authors further developed their views of the proper limits on state intervention in the family. Today, more than a decade after the appearance of the first book, it is evident that the authors have had an impact on the law governing child welfare decisions that would exceed any academician’s wildest expectations. As one commentator observed, every subsequent proposal for reform of the child welfare system has drawn its vocabulary and central ideas from Goldstein, Freud, and Solnit’s conceptual framework. On April 30, 1983, the Rutgers Law School, the Rutgers Institute for Research on Women, and the New Jersey Department of the Public Advocate convened a conference of scholars and practitioners in law, social work, psychology, history, anthropology, and related fields, in Newark, to examine critically the impact of the theoretical positions and proposals advanced by Goldstein, Freud, and Solnit on cases involving state intervention in parent-child relationships. The conference focused particularly on termination of parental rights.

Suggested Reading