Michael D'Antonio's article on my orphanage work includes the sub-headline, "Should America heed someone who claims 'hugs and kisses are overrated?' " ("The Upside of Orphanages," Nov. 27). D'Antonio correctly quotes me, but he does so incompletely and unfairly, in a way that greatly distorts my point. After I told him that "hugs and kisses are overrated," I added, "That doesn't mean they are unimportant. They can be, but many kids who are getting lots of hugs and kisses are being thrown up against the wall (or are neglected in other meaningful ways)." I also stressed that children need a sense of security, permanence and place, which many in foster care and in biological families are not getting.
I count myself as both a friend and supporter of McKenzie and his work. As founder and executive director of CORE: the Coalition for Residential Education, I believe that residential education programs, including orphanages and boarding schools for at-risk children and youth, have very positive influences on the lives of children of all ages. They provide long-term stability, nurturance and high-quality education that foster children moved from one home to another usually do not experience.
Many children thrive in these environments and grow up to lead successful lives. There are dozens of residential education programs around the country, and often these programs are the best and safest places for children from abusive and neglectful homes.
Founder and Executive Director
CORE: the Coalition for