A significant body of research has documented the overrepresentation of certain groups, particularly Black and American Indian/Alaska Native children and families, in the child welfare system relative to their representation in the general population. Families of color are more likely to be investigated for child abuse or neglect, and children of color have the greatest odds of being removed from their homes and placed in out-of-home care.
Providing a collaborative network of prevention services can promote increased equity and inclusion when paired with other service providers, such as early childhood, behavioral health, maternal and child health, and other family-serving systems that support children and families and promote well-being.
Providing a safe and nurturing environment to build social connections and receive concrete supports—such as housing services, financial resources, and in-home services—may be especially beneficial for families at risk of maltreatment. One component of developing a safe and nurturing environment is incorporating and promoting youth and family voice, particularly of those from communities of color, in the design and implementation of prevention programs.
Use the following resources to learn how child maltreatment prevention programs are working to engage diverse populations and advance racial equity.
Addressing Racial Bias & Inequity in Child Welfare
Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio
Describes the issue of racial bias in child welfare and lists several initiatives related to prevention services and striving for equity.
Addressing Racial Inequity in Child Welfare: The Key Role of Prevention Services
Center for New York City Affairs at The New School
Explains how prevention programs in New York City utilize efforts to address racial disparities at the organizational level, in their services provided, and through the formation of racial equity committees.
Child Abuse Prevention With a Racial Equity Lens [Webinar]
Strategies TA (2021)
Presents strategies for offering child abuse prevention programs through a racial equity lens and discusses the development of a community framework for antiracism.
Disproportionality and Race Equity in Child Welfare
National Conference of State Legislatures (2021)
Reviews racial disproportionality and efforts to achieve racial equity in child welfare, including the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018, which provides funding to States for prevention services. Under the law, States can use funds to modify prevention programs to be more culturally responsive and work to recruit and retain underserved families of color.
The Path to Racial Equity in Child Welfare: Valuing Family and Community (PDF - 1,642 KB)
Alliance for Children’s Rights (2021)
Outlines proposed policy reforms to improve racial equity in child welfare, including enhanced child abuse prevention strategies that halt unnecessary separations of children from their parents.
Race Equity Hub
National Association of Counsel for Children
Provides resources about child welfare and race equity, including on topics such as advocacy, education, health, and more.
Race Equity Within Our Prevention Work [Webinar]
Children’s Bureau Learning and Coordination Center (2021)
Features a webinar from the Children’s Bureau that describes efforts surrounding race equity in the field of child abuse prevention. The webinar includes presentations from the Children’s Bureau; the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect; the Center for the Study of Social Policy; Be Strong Families; and the Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families.
Racial Disparities in Perceptions of Community Supports: Implications for Policy, Practice, and Research With Children and Families (PDF - 1,597 KB)
Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Early Childhood (2021)
Examines racial disparities within the field of child welfare and presents data to inform policy and practice recommendations that focus on a prevention-forward approach to equity for all families.
Transforming Child Welfare: Prioritizing Prevention, Racial Equity, and Advancing Child and Family Well-Being
Thomas & Halbert (2021)
National Council on Family Relations
Discusses the shortcomings of the Family First Prevention Services Act and the need for a transformational shift detangling poverty and neglect to effectively serve children and families.