If we do our very best with every family while acknowledging the existence of racial and ethnic disparities in the child welfare system and the impact of those disparities on families then we can reduce disproportionality.
Reducing disproportionality is not a separate action that we take. It is all of the actions we take. The tools exist, we must use the tools.
Disproportionaility means a particular race or cultural group is over-represented in a program or system. This has been documented nationwide for decades in various programs and systems. Disparity is the condition of being unequal and refers to the difference in outcomes and conditions that exist among specific groups as compared to other groups due to unequal treatment or services. These include child protective services, special education services, 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. This is true both nationally and in Texas.
In Texas, a higher percentage of African American and Native 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 placement.
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 geographical context all play a role.
Health and human services agencies, the justice system, and other systems must work together to make a difference in past patterns. The child welfare system plays a pivotal role in the solution because it addresses the family as a whole and has the potential to prevent future inequities. By working in tandem with local, regional, state, tribal and national agencies across systems, the child welfare community seeks to identify common issues and barriers to equitable access to community services for all Texans.