In 2005, the Children's Bureau's National Resource Center for Adoption (NRCA) established the Minority Adoption Leadership Development Institute (MALDI) to enhance the leadership skills of minority adoption leaders from around the country. These leaders are selected from States, counties, Tribes, and/or State regions that have a high number of children of color awaiting adoption and/or high disproportionality rates. These emerging leaders are also provided mentors from their agency that work with them as they complete 12 months of job-related project assignments (Action Research Projects) which increase their technical expertise as well as their leadership capacities.
As a result of his participation in MALDI, Kory Murphy, an operations analyst for the Oregon Department of Human Services, developed the Oregon Child Welfare Equity Project in order to spread awareness of racial disparity and disproportionality, reduce the impact of bias on child welfare decision-making, and improve outcomes for Oregon's families and children. The project's goals include developing a data-based dialogue through which workers and managers can:
- Become aware of the extent of disproportionality in the State
- Uncover their own cultural biases and assumptions
- See the impact of bias on case planning
- Understand the importance of cultural considerations when working with families and children
- Safely reduce the number of children in foster care
Another crucial part of the MALDI focuses on community involvement. As part of this project, Oregon's Department of Human Services and Commission on Children and Families is working with Casey Family Programs to address disproportionality statewide. The Governor also has appointed a multiethnic, multidisciplinary Task Force on Child Welfare Racial Equity. The task force has assembled 80 community members and leaders in eight pilot counties to create community-based action plans and long-term strategies to address disproportionality. The local plans have six Safe and Equitable Foster Care Reduction Goals to be met by 2011.
Reprinted from Children's Bureau Express, "Site Visit: Oregon Child Welfare Equity Project" (http://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov).