United States. Children's Bureau.
Chibnall, Susan.;Dutch, Nicole M.;Jones-Harden, Brenda.;Brown, Annie.;Gourdine, Ruby.
In response to concerns about the over-representation of minority children in the child welfare system, the Children's Bureau sponsored an exploratory, qualitative study of the child welfare system's response to children of color, specifically, African-American children. Conducted under a contract with Caliber Associates, in collaboration with the Howard University School of Social Work, the project was intended to meet the following goals:
- To gain insight into the issue of over-representation (or racial disproportionality) from the perspective of the child welfare community, including agency administrators, supervisors, and direct service workers
- To describe the strategies child welfare and child-welfare serving agencies use to meet the needs of children and families of color in the child welfare system.
To meet these goals, the project team developed a multi-level and comprehensive qualitative information gathering plan for implementation with a number of child welfare agencies. Specifically, the project team conducted site visits to nine child welfare agencies to talk with agency administrators, supervisors, and workers, among others, regarding the issue of over-representation, and to find out more about the types of programs, practices and strategies that are being implemented to meet the needs of children and families of color, particularly African-American children and families. While the team also was interested in gathering information regarding programs, practices, and strategies that were being implemented with minority populations other than African-Americans, because African-American children are the most over-represented minority population in the child welfare system currently, they are the primary focus of the study.
The findings from the study are important for several reasons. First, there are very few studies that have considered the child welfare community's perception on over-representation. Second, there have been few studies that have looked at the manner in which agencies are responding to over-representation. As such, this study provides a unique perspective on the issue and potential solutions to it. Third, in its commitment to reducing over-representation, the Federal government needs information it can consider in future funding, policy, and research decisions related to this issue. The information presented here can be used to inform the Federal government regarding over-representation and potentially promising practices, strategies, and programs that are being implemented to reduce it. Finally, the information can educate and inform the child welfare community, by increasing their awareness of over-representation, and providing them with examples of programs, practices, and strategies that they can implement in their own agencies to better serve children and families of color.
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