Sunday, August 24, 2008

Racial Disparities in Maryland Foster Care and Nationwide

Advocates for Children and Youth (Maryland), reports here that "African-American children in Maryland are in out-of-home placement at 5.3 times the rate of white children, more than 50 percent higher than the national gap. African-American children are being removed from their homes at 3.5 times the rate of white children. These disparities exist despite no evidence of any difference in actual maltreatment rates."

A substantial body of research has demonstrated nationwide that African-American children and families are treated worse at every stage of the child welfare process than whites.  African-Americans parents are the subject of a disproportionate number of unsubstantiated reports of child abuse and neglect, African-American children are removed at greater rates than white children, receive worse treatment and endure longer stays in foster care, and are adopted at lower rates than white children.  Much  of the earliest research is described in Dorothy Roberts' chilling, classic 2001 book, Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare.

For more recent state-by-state data, see Appendix 2 to this July 2007 U.S. Government Accounting Office report.

The Government Accounting Office submitted this July 31, 2008 testimony for a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support.

The Center for the Study of Social Policy has been a leader in bringing attention to this issue via the Annie E. Casey Foundation-CSSP Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare.  See  Robert Hill's 2007 report for CSSP synthesizing research on racial disproportionality in child welfare, and CSSP's fact sheet.

(all links last visited 08-24-08 MIF)

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