Conference Report on Racial Disproportionality

Chapin Hall recently released Race and Child Welfare, an issue brief based on a January convening of the child welfare community. The issue brief seeks to contextualize racial disproportionality as it was addressed at the conference, including an analysis of the problem as well as promising policy options that would not only reduce child maltreatment but also limit the victimization of black children.

The authors open the issue brief by providing an overview of the historical and social background that give rise to disproportionality. They go on to explore what the empirical evidence reveals regarding the higher incidence of maltreatment among African American children, as opposed to systemic bias of overserving this population. With evidence to make the connections, the report concludes that the social strains of racial discrimination and economic injustice—disproportionately experienced by African American families—results in their disproportionate need for child welfare services. While acknowledging the difficulty in ameliorating structural inequality, the report proposes solutions to target early family supports to disadvantaged neighborhoods, expand promising programs, and encourage further research, particularly into the cost efficiency of investment in prevention programs.

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