What does racial disproportionality in the child welfare system look like?

In the NYS Child Welfare System:

  1. 2 black children and 1.5 Latino children are reported to the SCR for each white child reported;
  2. 2.5 black children and 1.9 Latino children are indicated for each white child indicated;
  3. 5.3 black children and 2.3 Latino children enter care for each white child entering care;
  4. 6.6 black children and 2.8 Latino children are in care for each white child in care;
  5. despite no greater incidence of maltreatment.
Race/Ethnicityi: NYS population Youth in foster care
African American 17% 47.2%
Latino 16.8% 20.5%
White 73.4% 18.5%
Asian 7.1% 0.5%
Native American 0.7% 0.2%

Why does it matter?

It is a human rights issue.

The United Nations Rights of the Child says:

“States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race.”

It costs us money.

If federal funding streams were reformed and disproportionality was eliminated, there is a potential savings of $1.2 billion dollars (Bayard, Casey Family Programs).

It creates unnecessary trauma for children:

Children who endure the trauma of being separated from parents and experience feelings,

for example, of fear and confusion, are vulnerable and susceptible to posttraumatic stress disorders (PTSD) (Dubner & Motta, 1999; Racusin, Maerlender, Sengupta, Isquith, & Straus, 2005). The Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study found that 54.4% of alumni had significant mental health problems that included depression, social problems, anxiety, and PTSD (Casey Family Programs, 2005).

It is a form of institutionalized racism.

Racism is the network of institutional systems, structures, policies, and practices that create advantages and benefits for white people, and discrimination, oppression and disadvantage for people of color (Martines, 1995).
Throughout U.S. history, the child welfare system has reinforced the dominant culture that stigmatizes communities and relies on “outsiders” to “save” children identified by the outsiders as “at-risk.” Additionally, the majority of women of color were denied mother’s pensions in the 1900s, Aid to Dependent Children starting in the 1930s, and have been penalized under restrictive policies in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

What will the REAL bill/council do?

The Division of Human Rights shall convene a race equity accountability and leadership council to undo structural racism and implicit bias for all points of entry of children within the social services system.

At a minimum the race equity accountability and leadership council shall:

  • Adopt and implement specific training to undo structural racism and implicit bias for all points of entry of children with the social services system;
  • Collect, analyze and report data tracking the incidence of structural racism and implicit bias and changes in results as a result of training implemented by the council;
  • Make recommendations for redeployment of existing resources;
  • Coordinate cooperative efforts among state and local agencies and departments to affect improved results in undoing racism, taking into account local results as well as state results.

What does accountability look like?

Accountability means responsibility and answerability to the communities struggling

with racist oppression. The REAL Council will use the principles of proportionate representation to determine its membership composition. It will be proportionate to the children represented in the child welfare system and include three parent advocates who have been impacted by the child welfare system. This means the council membership would be: 47% African American, 20% Latino/Hispanic, 18% white, 0.05 Asian, 0.2

Native American. 60% of the council would be from the greater NYS and 40% from NYC.

How can you help support the REAL bill?

Join the campaign:
Register to vote and take the voter pledge.
Arrange for a presentation in your community or workplace:
Join our weekly call on Saturdays at 10am: (218) 844-8230 PIN: 406830#
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