To address disproportionality and disparity within the child welfare system, it is necessary to understand the root causes and contributing factors that influence these inequities. This section provides resources and information that explore the causes of disproportionality and disparity, including State and local examples.
Addressing Bias in Delinquency and Child Welfare Systems: Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile and Family Courts Is Critical to Creating a Fair and Equitable System of Justice for All Youth (PDF - 429 KB)
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, State Justice Institute, & National Juvenile Defender Center (2018)
Discusses the influence that bias has in juvenile and family court and its impact on racial disproportionality in their respective systems. The resource, which is a bench card for judges, also includes tools for self-reflection and strategies to reduce and remove implicit bias from the courtroom.
Child Welfare Practice to Address Racial Disproportionality and Disparity
Entangled Roots: The Role of Race in Policies That Separate Families (PDF - 1,592 KB)
Center for the Study of Social Policy
Explores the role race has played in policy across several systems, including child welfare, immigration, and criminal justice, leading to racially disproportionate and disparate outcomes for families of color. The child welfare system is discussed on pages 15–19.
How Foster Care Has Stripped Native American Children of Their Own Cultures
Teen Vogue & Juvenile Law Center
Describes the history of the treatment of Native Americans in the United States and its continued impact on the disproportionality of Native American children who are in the foster care system today. The article also describes the introduction and impact of the Indian Child Welfare Act as a way to move from government-sanctioned removals to government-sanctioned protections for Native Americans.
Implicit Racial Bias 101: Exploring Implicit Bias in Child Protection [Video]
Ohio State University, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, & Center for the Study of Social Policy (2018)
Shares a video that covers the history of race and child protection, implicit bias, origins of bias, how to measure bias, and more.
Racial Disproportionality and Disparities in the Child Welfare System: Why Do They Exist, and What Can Be Done to Address Them? (PDF - 91 KB)
Dettlaff & Boyd (2021)
The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Reviews causes of racial disproportionality and the best way to address it. The article indicates that racial disparity causes separation of families, which should not be viewed as acceptable.
Racism in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems
Describes systemic racism in the child welfare system that has impacted the lives of children of color for decades. The website discusses how youth of color end up in the foster care system and juvenile justice system at disproportionate rates and presents a report on what can be done to create change.
Systematically Neglected: How Racism Structures Public Systems to Produce Child Neglect
Center for the Study of Social Policy (2022)
Outlines the history of oversurveillance of families of color by the child welfare system and explains how these policies push families into the system. The report also provides recommendations for supporting children and families.
State and local examples
Bias Checklist: Conditions, Behaviors and Attitude Which Have the Potential to Produce and Mask Bias in Child Welfare Services (PDF - 148 KB)
Explores bias in child welfare and presents a checklist for child welfare practitioners to help identify how and when bias may occur.
Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Child Removals Go Unaddressed Here
University of Southern California, Center for Health Journalism
Arizona Daily Star
Describes the lack of adequate action in relation to the discussion on disproportionality and disparity within child welfare in Pima County, Arizona.
What You Should Know About Disproportionality
Court Appointed Special Advocates of Travis County
Shares facts about disproportionality in the child welfare system in Travis County, Texas, and discusses contributors to disparities.
Why Are Latinos So Overrepresented in the State Child Welfare System?
Examines the overrepresentation of Latinos in the Massachusetts child welfare system and describes some causes of disproportionality.