International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Trauma and Diversity: Racial Inequity in the Child Welfare System

07/17/2018
by Bridget Cho, MA
In recent years, there has been greater awareness that some children are disproportionately likely to become engaged with child welfare services based on their racial identity. In 2014, Black/African American youth had a national racial disproportionality index (RDI) of 1.8—that is, these children were overrepresented in foster care at a rate 1.8 times their rate in the general population in the U.S.—whereas white children were underrepresented in foster care with an RDI of 0.8 (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2016). Furthermore, racial disparities exist at various decision points in the child welfare involvement process. Compared to white and Asian children, Black/African American and multiracial children are more likely to be removed from their homes, spend longer in foster care, and are less likely to be adopted or reunited with their families before aging out of care compared to other racial groups (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2016; Hill, 2006). African American males in particular are more likely to be placed in institutional settings, experience more placement moves, and are more likely to age out of care compared to the general population of children (Miller, Farrow, Meltzer, & Notkin, 2012).

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