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Disproportionality and Disparity

Africian American Young Boy

Disproportionality is defined as the overrepresentation of a particular group of people in a particular group or system. Disparity is the unequal or inequitable treatment of one group as compared to another. In Texas more than 4,400 African American children were legally removed by Child Protective Services during the last fiscal year. These children accounted for more than 25% of all children removed, while African American children account for only 12% of all children in our state.

These disparities become more pronounced deeper within the child welfare system. African American children account for more than 35% of children awaiting adoption. Further, African American and Hispanic children typically wait two months longer to achieve adoption as compared to white children.

African American children also tend to:

  • Stay in foster care longer;
  • Have more placements while in care;
  • Receive fewer services while in care;
  • Have lower high school graduation rates; and
  • Leave the system less prepared for adulthood than their white peers.

Disproportionality is a complex phenomenon. It involves individuals, families, communities and systems. Disproportionality is embedded in the structure of our system - in policies, practice, and in the relationship between social workers, agencies, and their clients. Advocates for children and families know that no organization or individual can reverse the effects of disproportionality without the help of many partners. 

Since 2006, Texas Child Protective Services has focused on reducing disproportionality in our child welfare system. While some progress has been made, we have a long way to go. We need your help. We continue to partner with Disproportionality Advisory Committees, the Center for the Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities at the Health and Human Services Commission, and many other committed individuals and organizations across our great state. These partners represent many different family-serving systems, such as health care, juvenile justice, education, law enforcement, and churches.

Disproportionality occurs in every state in America and in many systems beyond child welfare, such as education and criminal justice. Reducing and eliminating these disproportionality and disparities requires the concerted efforts of many, and we invite you to join with us. For more information, please contact State Disproportionality Manager, Tanya Rollins, or State Disproportionality Specialist, Jon Olson.

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