Trapped in a Maze provides a window into families' lived experiences in poverty by looking at their complex interactions with institutions such as welfare, hospitals, courts, housing, and schools. Families are more intertwined with institutions than ever as they struggle to maintain their eligibility for services and face the possibility that involvement with one institution could trigger other types of institutional oversight. Many poor families find themselves trapped in a multi-institutional maze, stuck in between several systems with no clear path to resolution. Tracing the complex and often unpredictable journeys of families in this maze, this book reveals how the formal rationality by which these institutions ostensibly operate undercuts what they can actually achieve. And worse, it demonstrates how involvement with multiple institutions can perpetuate the conditions of poverty that these families are fighting to escape.