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Bars, Dumps, and Other Childhood Hangouts
Kathy Wiens gives voice and insight into the life of an abused and neglected child who is eventually placed in foster care.  In Bars, Dumps and Other Childhood Hangouts, the reader  experiences firsthand what it is like to be such a child.  The story explores the first ten years of Kathy’s life with her alcoholic parents who are drowning in poverty and their addictions.  The journey continues through a children’s home and the foster care system in Lincoln, Nebraska.  When a Mennonite couple from Milford Nebraska follow God’s call in their life an unexpected miracle brings hope and healing to this sad situation.

       Those who have experienced childhood trauma find similarities and a kindred spirit in Kathy’s story.  Those who have not gain a deeper understanding of childhood poverty, abuse and neglect.  This book helps teachers, foster parents, counselors, or anyone who works with  children experiencing poverty, abuse or neglect gain a deeper compassion and empathy for these young people.



Praise for Bars,

Dumps, and Other Childhood Hangouts

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Amazon Reviews

By Stephanie Grace Whitson on August 28, 2014


Everyone involved in foster care should read this first-hand account. It illuminates what goes on inside a good kid handed a difficult life through no fault of her own. The profound change foster care parents can make in a child's life is also shown, but the book's greatest impact will be in regards to enabling understanding the things foster kids may not be able to say on their own behalf. A touching story that has the potential to change lives for the better.


This is a great book to help foster parents understand where children are coming from. Lots of insight on how they may be feeling. What a strong person she is!


A very honest look at a very rough childhood. A must read for all!


In 1966 I came to Lincoln from Nebraska City, Nebraska to go to the Lincoln School of Commerce. I was totally unaware that people lived the way that Katherine did. Despite her terrible childhood she turned out to have a wonderful life. I feel that her wonderful foster parents played a really big part of the reason she turned out the way she did. They were really wonderful people and I wish the world had more people like them.


Thank you to Katherine for writing a book that expresses so clearly the trauma of living in a household effected by alcoholism and poverty. This book is written with the voice of the child and the wisdom of the adult. It is a book that will be helpful for anyone who interacts with children and especially with children who might be living precariously. It's heart-changing.

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Reader endorsements

As a child, all Kathy wanted was safety, protection, and comfort - was that too much to ask? While some grown-ups were helpful, others looked the other way. Most grown-ups were a perplexing combination of good and bad. In her book, Kathy poignantly portrays a little girl growing up in an environment that threatened to snuff the life out of her. Through it all, she showed remarkable resilience that finally led her to that place of safety that she so deserved. Grown-ups everywhere – in churches, in neighborhoods, in schools, in professionals’ offices – need to step up and speak out for the Kathy's in their world.  

Jeanette Harder PhD.

Professor, Grace Abbott School of Social Work

Co-Founder, Dove's Nest




Please Don't Send Me Back

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