We can reduce disproportionality by doing our very best with every family while also being aware of the racial and ethnic disparities in the child welfare system. Reducing disproportionality is not a separate action that we take, it is a part of every action we take.
Disproportionality means a particular race or cultural group is over-represented in a program or system. It’s a situation that’s been documented for decades in various programs and systems nationwide. Disparity refers to differences in outcomes and conditions for some groups of people compared to other groups because of unequal treatment or services.
Disproportionality and disparities are found in systems such as child welfare, special education, juvenile justice, criminal justice, and health care. There are more African Americans and Native American in these systems than their percentage of the general population would indicate and for their outcomes are poorer. This is true both nationally and in Texas.
In Texas, a higher percentage of African American children:
- Are removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect.
- Don’t return home to their families.
- Grow up in foster care without being adopted or finding another permanent home.
The causes of disproportionality are complex and cross many social systems. Some scholars think family risks, institutional and personal biases, system processes and resources, and geographic context all play a role.
The child welfare system, justice system, education system, and other systems must work together to address these issues. Child Protective Services works with local, regional, state, tribal, and national agencies across many systems to identify common issues, eliminate barriers to community services for all Texans, and work strategically to eliminate disparities.