Article

New methodology: Measuring racial or ethnic disparities in child welfare

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.

Abstract

Understanding the disparate treatment of African American children in the child welfare system requires consideration of the dynamics at a community level and the state level. Looking across a state allows one to target policies and practices to areas within the state that are most in need. This paper argues for a new method of assessing disparate treatment in child welfare that takes into consideration the racial or ethnic makeup of the community in conjunction with the racial or ethnic makeup across the state. This paper uses decision based enumeration which helps to pinpoint decisions where disparities are the greatest, and helps target decisions that most impact disparate treatment. This paper utilizes a methodology that is both accessible to state and county child welfare administrators and utilizes data that is readily available to child welfare policy makers and administrators. Using data from Illinois to illustrate this methodology, this paper highlights the regions within the state where limited resources may be targeted to address disproportionate representation and disparate treatment in Illinois' child welfare system.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

... This complexity reflects, in part, the realities of family life and of policy and practice in this field. A further dimension of this complexity is advanced by Rolock (2011Rolock ( , p.1532: ...
... It can be used to imply that if raised intervention rates result because services are biased in their decision making (and/or in how services are structured and provided) this is clearly wrong, but if it is because of greater 'need' in a population it is not. As Rolock (2011Rolock ( , p.1536 puts it, 'disparities can be warranted when, for instance, there are actual differences in risks and needs; disparity is of concern when it is based on bias'. But if the differences in risk and need are based on unjust social structures, surely that is also a matter 'of concern'. ...
... In conclusion, this aspect of child welfare inequities reinforces the question posed by Rolock (2011), above, and others: are higher rates or lower rates markers of better outcomes for children and their parents? Given the very large inequities in children's chances of receiving a powerful state intervention in their lives, including removal from home and a permanent alternative placement, or the risk of remaining in adverse circumstances, there is an urgent requirement for better measures by which to judge the effectiveness of expensive child welfare interventions and systems. ...
... Child Protective Services can further decide to recommend placing a child in foster care when immediate safety threats exist, and less intrusive intervention is not feasible. While punitive and supportive aspects of these CPS responses remain a subject of ongoing debate (Edwards, 2016;Finkelhor, 2008;Pelton, 1997), these decision points have been used to assess any disparate responses by CPS following investigations and assessments of child maltreatment reports (Morton et al., 2011;Rolock, 2011). ...
... From the NCANDS Child Files, we pulled 55,295,313 maltreatment cases reported from 2003 to 2017. Among them, the following records were excluded: (a) fatality cases (0.03%); (b) duplicate records (0.29%); (c) unborn, age >17, and missing age cases (0.85%); (d) missing state-years due to no data submission by the following states in specified years (0.47%): AK 2003-2004-2004, GA 2003-2004, MD 2005-2006, MI 2006-2007, ND 2003-2011, and WI 2003-2004; (e) missing county-years due to no data submission for the following counties in given years (<0.01%): three MA counties in -2011-2017and four RI counties in 2003-2017; and (f) some records with erroneous county identifiers from CT, DE, and NJ (0.02%). The missing stateand county-years in the maltreatment data were also excluded from the child population data. ...
... From the NCANDS Child Files, we pulled 55,295,313 maltreatment cases reported from 2003 to 2017. Among them, the following records were excluded: (a) fatality cases (0.03%); (b) duplicate records (0.29%); (c) unborn, age >17, and missing age cases (0.85%); (d) missing state-years due to no data submission by the following states in specified years (0.47%): AK 2003-2004-2004, GA 2003-2004, MD 2005-2006, MI 2006-2007, ND 2003-2011, and WI 2003-2004; (e) missing county-years due to no data submission for the following counties in given years (<0.01%): three MA counties in -2011-2017and four RI counties in 2003-2017; and (f) some records with erroneous county identifiers from CT, DE, and NJ (0.02%). The missing stateand county-years in the maltreatment data were also excluded from the child population data. ...
Article
The U.S. annual rate of child maltreatment reports has increased from 38.9 per 1,000 children in 2007 to 47.8 per 1,000 children in 2018 (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2012, 2020). Using national administrative child welfare data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, the present study examined longitudinal trends in child maltreatment reports over the years 2007-2018. Specifically, the following research questions were examined: (a) Do upward trends in child maltreatment reports differ by the source of the report (i.e., professional or nonprofessional sources) and between urban and rural areas?; (b) Do increasing numbers of child maltreatment reports represent reports with a low risk of recidivism (i.e., re-reporting)?; and (c) Do longitudinal trends of Child Protective Services (CPS) responses to investigated reports differ by the source of the report and between urban and rural areas? We found that increases in maltreatment reports were primarily driven by increases in reports from professional sources and that report rates increased across rural and urban areas alike. However, the increases were more significant in rural and small urban areas compared to large urban areas. We did not find evidence that the increasing numbers of reports were due to an increase in reports with low recidivism risk. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
... A final area of scholarship salient to this analysis is how best to measure decision making in CPS agencies. Recent studies examining racial disparity have made substantial conceptual and methodological contributions to measuring decisions as interrelated points along a case trajectory (Drake et al., 2011;Rolock, 2011;Shaw, Putnam-Hornstein, Magruder, & Needell, 2008). Most researchers construct some sort of proportion or index to compare decision outcomes between minority children and White children. ...
... When using a proportion, however, the choice of denominator is critical to capturing the decision of interest. Rolock (2011) identifies two ways to measure CPS decision outcomes: Population-based enumeration uses the full population as the denominator and captures effects that have accumulated during prior decision-making points. Decisionbased enumeration uses the population from the preceding decision point as the denominator, and captures only those effects that are unique to the specific decision point. ...
... To address the additional research question regarding measurement approaches to decision making, the study applies decision-and population-based enumeration methods from Rolock (2011). The three population-based rates are calculated as the incidence per 1,000 children within a county. ...
Article
Full-text available
Differential response (DR) profoundly changes the decision pathways of public child welfare systems, yet little is known about how DR shapes the experiences of children whose reports receive an investigation rather than an alternate response. Using data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), this study examined the relationship between DR implementation and decision outcomes in neglect cases, as measured by investigation, substantiation, and removal rates in 297 U.S. counties. Multivariate regression models included county-level measures of child poverty and proportions of African American children. Path analyses were also conducted to identify mediating effects of prior decision points and moderating effects of DR on poverty and race's influence on decision outcomes. Results indicate that compared to non-DR counties, those implementing DR have significantly lower investigation and substantiation rates within county populations but higher substantiation rates among investigated cases. Regression models showed significant reductions in removal rates associated with DR implementation, but these effects became insignificant in path models that accounted for mediation effects of previous decision points. Findings also suggest that DR implementation may reduce the positive association between child poverty rates and investigation rates, but additional studies with larger samples are needed to confirm this moderation effect. Two methods of calculating decision outcomes, population- and decision-based enumeration, were used, and policy and research implications of each are discussed. This study demonstrates that despite their inherit complexity, large administrative datasets such as NCANDS can be used to assess the impact of wide-scale system change across jurisdictions.
... In other words, the disparity may occur prior to a child being in foster care, at some unmeasured decision point earlier in the CPS experience. Not all children living in the U.S. come to the attention of the child welfare system, but of those who do, children of color are more likely to come in contact than White children (e.g., Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2016; Derezotes et al., 2004;Rolock, 2011;Shaw, Putnam-Hornstein, Magruder, & Needell, 2008). This initial report to child welfare can be thought of as the "front door" of the system. ...
... These decisions vary by site or jurisdiction, and are often more complicated than the one outlined in Fig. 3.3 (see for instance, an Alameda County diagram: https://www.alamedasocialservices.org/pub lic/services/children_and_family/AlamedaDCFSFlowChart.pdf). For ease of examination and understandability, these decisions may also be limited to just a few key decisions (see, for instance: Rolock, 2011). ...
Chapter
Racial and ethnic disproportionality and disparity are well documented in child welfare systems. Disproportionality occurs when the percent of persons of a certain race or ethnicity in an identified population differ from the percentage of persons of the same group in a reference population. Disparity occurs when there are unequal outcomes for one racial or ethnic group when compared to a different racial or ethnic group. Disproportionality and disparities have become value laden terms that imply inequities. In this chapter we do not discuss inequities, rather our focus is on how to measure disproportionality and disparities, and the challenges associated with different measurement approaches such as population-based enumeration and decision-based enumeration. When a racial or ethnic group is small, certain types of disproportion and disparity can be hard to detect using typical quantitative methods. Challenges that occur when measuring low-incidence groups, such as low confidence in statistical estimates and heterogeneous populations combined into single categories, are discussed. Alternate ways of examining the experiences of low-incidence racial and ethnic minorities are also presented. Given that comparison between groups is inherent to the definition of disparity, methodological concerns related to the selection of comparison groups are explored. Discussions about the appropriate ways to categorize, measure and interpret disparate engagement with social systems and subsequent outcomes are taking place across several disciplines. The chapter concludes by highlighting measurement approaches within these disciplines and provides a brief synthesis of the overall current state of knowledge.
... Additionally, these community characteristics tend to influence the definition, recognition, and the likelihood of reporting suspected maltreatment (Coulton et al., 2007). It is this early decision point where the largest racial and ethnic disparities in entry in state custody emerge Rolock, 2011). ...
... It is the most populous county and contains half of all children in substitute care. Despite its size, Cook has one of the lowest rates of foster care entry in the state (Rolock, 2011). Further, there is considerable racial, ethnic, and economic variation within Cook that is less pronounced in other parts of the state (Greenlee, 2010). ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Purpose: This study tests the relationship between individual child-level and community characteristics on the decision to place children in foster care. Research shows links between community context and child maltreatment rates. In particular, reports of maltreatment are positively associated with community level measures of economic impoverishment, childcare burden, residential instability, and crime (Coulton, 1995). There is, however, a dearth of research examining the potential relationship of these community characteristics with the child welfare system's response to maltreatment. This study examines the association of community characteristics, individual level factors, in particular race, and the decision to place children in foster care. Method: Using child welfare administrative data, county level Census, and state police data, we analyzed the decision to place children in foster care following a maltreatment investigation (n=294,525) during a three-year period. A logistic multi-level model was used to examine the relationship between individual characteristics (level-one), and county characteristics (level-two), on the likelihood that children would enter foster care following maltreatment investigations. Level-one predictors included type of alleged maltreatment, age, gender, and race of investigated children. Level-two predictors included measures of economic impoverishment, child-care burden, residential instability, and arrest data for 102 counties in Illinois. We modeled the effect of level-one variables as conditioned by the effect of level-two variables. The best fitting model was determined using backward step-wise procedures in which level-one and two predictors were removed based on p-values and comparison of AIC scores for each model. Results: Results show that the decision to place children in foster care is associated with the interaction of county level characteristics and individual factors, including race and type of alleged maltreatment. After adjusting for all covariates, the main effect for African American (compared to White) was not statistically significant. There was, however, a significant and positive (OR=3.99; CI=1.42, 8.12) cross-level interaction between increased levels of county-level economic disparity and the decision to place African American children in foster care. Similarly, although allegations of physical abuse were no more likely to result in placement than allegations of neglect, there were significant cross-level interactions with measures of impoverishment. In particular, as county rates of unemployment (OR=0.89; CI=0.81, 0.98), percent of African Americans in the county (OR=0.21; CI=0.05, 0.88), and levels of economic disparity (OR=.24; CI=0.07, 0.84) increased, physical abuse allegations were less likely to result in removal, compared to allegations of neglect. Implications: Results suggest that the decision to place children in foster care may in part be influenced by community economic and racial factors in addition to children's race and the allegation type. In particular, African American children living in communities with greater economic disparities are more likely to enter foster care after a maltreatment investigation and children living in communities with greater economic disparities, higher percentages of African Americans, and higher rates of unemployment are more likely to enter foster care following allegations of neglect. These findings extend and refine our understanding of how community characteristics, specifically economic impoverishment, contribute to disparate rates of African American children in foster care.
... Additionally, these community characteristics tend to influence the definition, recognition, and the likelihood of reporting suspected maltreatment (Coulton et al., 2007). It is this early decision point where the largest racial and ethnic disparities in entry in state custody emerge Rolock, 2011). ...
... It is the most populous county and contains half of all children in substitute care. Despite its size, Cook has one of the lowest rates of foster care entry in the state (Rolock, 2011). Further, there is considerable racial, ethnic, and economic variation within Cook that is less pronounced in other parts of the state (Greenlee, 2010). ...
Article
Objective: Past studies demonstrate a relationship between race and the likelihood of children entering state custody subsequent to a maltreatment investigation. Research also shows that community structural characteristics such as poverty and residential mobility are correlated with entry rates. The combined effect, however, of race and community characteristics on substitute care entry is unclear. We analyzed 3 years of Illinois child welfare administrative and county-level structural data to assess the combined effect of child characteristics and level of community organization on substitute care entry. Methods: Based on county indicators of crime, socioeconomic status, residential mobility, and child care burden, a latent profile analysis classified Illinois counties into three levels of social organization (high, moderate, and low). To test the relationship between community and child level predictors of substitute care entry, a dichotomous variable representing substitute care entry was regressed onto county level and individual covariates (child age, race or ethnicity, gender, and allegation). To test the combined relationship of community and individual level characteristics, interactions between county level of organization and race were explored. Results: Like previous studies, results showed that individual factors of race, age, and allegation were associated with the decision to place children in substitute care. Also consistent with past research, they revealed a general trend in which decreasing levels of social organization were associated with relatively higher odds of entry to care. The magnitude of this effect at each level of social organization, however, varied by race, with African American children in disorganized communities experiencing the greatest risk of removal. Conclusions: These findings suggest that efforts to understand the decision to place a child in substitute care may need to be community specific. In particular the level of community organization may influence the response of the system to maltreatment investigations. In communities with different characteristics and across racial groups, child welfare systems may need to examine decision making processes regarding children's removal from parental care.
... Maltreated youth, for example, tend to receive harsher sanctions than juvenile offenders without maltreatment histories. Marshall and Haight (2014) pointed out that youth of color and their families in particular are sanctioned more severely than called for by their offense, which may partly explain racial/ethnic disproportionalities in the CW (Rolock, 2011;Shaw, Putnam-Hornstein, Magruder, & Needell, 2008) and JJ systems (Huggins-Hoyt, Briggs, Mowbray, & Allen, 2019;Mallett, 2018). In addition, dual system youth, though predominantly males, are more likely to be female than their JJ-only counterparts (Young, Bowley, Bilanin, & Ho, 2015). ...
Article
Dual system youth, referring to those involved in the child welfare (CW) and juvenile justice (JJ) systems, require attention as they are particularly vulnerable to mental health (MH) problems. Although many of them receive MH services during their time in the CW and JJ systems, little is known about what happens to them afterward, in terms of system re-entry. Using administrative data on two cohorts of dual system youth in 2003 and 2012, we explored the proportion of dual system youth who re-enter the CW and/or JJ systems after receiving MH services, and the association between individual and case characteristics and the likelihood of system re-entry. We found that 85% of the dual system youth who received MH services became re-involved with the CW and/or JJ systems. Results from multinomial logistic regression showed that youth in the second cohort and females were less likely to become re-involved with the systems. However, youth who were older, experienced out-of-home placement and were diagnosed with disruptive behavior and anxiety disorders experienced greater odds of subsequent system re-entry.
... The Disparity Index, recommended by Shaw, Putnam-Hornstein, Magruder, and Needell (2008) and Rolock (2011), is calculated by dividing the rate of any given status (e.g., use of out-of-home placement) for a minority population by the rate of this status for children of another group, although usually White children). The disparity index, thus, is defined as "the likelihood of one group experiencing an event compared to the likelihood of another group experiencing the same event" (Shaw et al.,p. ...
Article
Background: Black children continue to be found in child welfare outcome measures at rates nearly double those of White children in the United States. Researchers have turned from bias theory to risk theory, arguing that disparity disappears when considering only the subgroup of children in poverty. In this study, we consider whether this phenomenon is an example of Simpson's Paradox, where aggregate findings are confounded by a third factor. Participants: We created a dataset by matching child welfare data to schools in a metropolitan California county. Methods: We consider measures of poverty and racial-ethnic student composition as possible confounders, utilizing compositional data analysis for the latter. Traditional linear and ridge regression models were used to calculate the unadjusted and adjusted effects of each independent variable. Results: We find only partial evidence of Simpson's Paradox, in that Black to White disparity only disappears in the highest quartile of poverty. Holding poverty constant, only increasing student population non-White composition was significantly associated with reducing Black to White disparity ratios. Conclusion: In a small, exploratory study, we find that while poverty may serve as an equalizer, diversity racial/ethnic student body composition may serve as a neutralizer. We find that underlying causes of disparity are complex and caution against endorsement of single theories to explain the disproportionate representation of Black children in child welfare. We find utility in analyzing child welfare data with concepts and techniques common in other disciplines and highlight several weaknesses of current child welfare informatics which impact both program evaluation and research.
Article
Background: Given fathers' potential role in bringing about desired child welfare case outcomes, researchers have begun to identify factors that impact agency efforts to identify and involve fathers. Racial-ethnic inequality and bias are not among factors studied, despite longstanding evidence that racial-ethnic minority children make up a disproportionate share of the child welfare population. Objective: We set out to identify racial-ethnic patterns in initial casework activity with nonresident fathers and explore whether select factors explain racial-ethnic differentials. Participants and setting: Caseworkers of 1,754 children in foster care in four U.S. states were surveyed. Methods: Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression models were used to identify factors associated with whether agencies identified, located, and contacted nonresident fathers. Results: Agencies were less likely to identify nonresident fathers of Black, Latinx, and Multiracial children, relative to those of White children. Among fathers whom agencies identified, Black and Latinx fathers were less likely to be located. Among fathers whom agencies located, Black and Latinx fathers were less likely to be contacted. Whereas greater rates of international mobility among Latinx fathers explained agencies' disproportionately low rates of contact, no other factor explained racial-ethnic differentials. Conclusion: We find evidence of historical racial-ethnic disproportionalities across the three initial stages of casework practice with nonresident fathers in U.S. child welfare systems. Though more recent data are needed, this research suggests that racial-ethnic minority foster children are more likely than White foster children to be denied the benefits of agency-father contact, whether due to societal or systemic racial inequalities.
Article
This study aims to compare different approaches to measuring racial/ethnic disparities in mental health (MH) service use among a nationwide representative sample of children referred to the child welfare system and compare the magnitude and direction of potential disparities in MH service use over time. Using data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, six summary measures of disparity were implemented to quantify racial/ethnic disparities in MH service use. This study found that youth of color were less likely than their White counterparts to receive MH services. This racial/ethnic disparity was found to increase over time; however, the magnitude of the increase varied considerably across disparity measures. In addition, the estimated increases in disparity were even greater when the sample was limited to youth in need of MH services. This study shows that the same data may produce different magnitudes of disparity, depending on which metric is implemented and whether MH need is accounted for. A greater understanding of and justification for selection of methods to examine MH disparities among child welfare researchers and policy makers is warranted.
Article
Efforts to understand and respond to racial and ethnic disparities in referrals to and use of mental health services among children involved in the child welfare system are constrained by the lack of consistency in defining and measuring disparities and the lack of clarity as to what causal mechanisms sustain patterns of disparate treatment. Recent developments in the field of public health offer some insight as to how our understanding of similar disparities in child welfare may be advanced. Despite advancements, there is still an insufficient knowledge base from which to offer an alternative definition of disparities that illuminates conceptual and methodological innovation in child welfare research. Based on a critical review of the literature, more exploratory and etiological research grounded in implementation of advanced metrics and multivariate methods is warranted to generate a clear definition. Recommendations are offered to address conceptual ambiguity.
Article
The disproportional representation and disparity experienced by African American children and families in the child welfare system have received increasing attention over the past three decades. A review of the literature for explanatory factors and conceptual frameworks reveals that, as with the general definitions of disproportionality and disparity, there is a need for increased precision and refinement of the current frameworks used to explain the occurrence of these phenomena in the child welfare system. In order to address these issues, an alternate conceptual framework is proposed, with explanatory factors organized into five major paths: 1) Disproportionate Need; 2) Human Decision-Making; 3) Agency-System Factors; 4) Placement Dynamics; and 5) Policy Impact. This comprehensive framework aims to enhance the theoretical basis relevant to future research, critical thinking, and analyzing responses to the issues of disproportionality and disparity in child welfare.
Data
Full-text available
According to the most recent data for 2005, African American children accounted for 31 percent of foster children and only 21 percent of children in the general population of Tennessee. Compared with other states, Tennessee has a disproportionality rate that is among the lowest in the country. Nevertheless, Tennessee is a diverse state with regional and county-level differences in the use of foster care. As a result, disproportionality in some parts of the state is greater than it is in other parts. This report describes that variation in order to better understand disparities in the use of foster care and to point to strategies that may bring greater equity to the delivery of child welfare services. The study is based on Tennessee children placed in foster care between 2000 and 2005, inclusive. Children adjudicated abused, neglected, or unruly up to the age of 18 and placed in foster family care, relative homes, or group and residential care are included. The analysis is divided into two parts. The first part focuses on entry rates and differences in the likelihood that children will enter foster care. The second part examines exit patterns in order to assess how length of stay and exit type (e.g., reunification or adoption) influence disproportionality overall.
Data
Full-text available
According to national data, roughly 37 percent of the children in foster care are African American despite the fact that African American children make up only 15 percent of the children living in the United States.1 The ratio of the two percentages – 2.43 – reflects the fact that African American children are overrepresented in the nation’s foster care system. In this paper, we aim to better understand the overrepresentation of African American children in the foster care system. To do this, we address the issue of entry rate disparities at the county level. The study is based on children first placed in foster care between 2000 and 2005, from 1,034 counties in states that contribute to Chapin Hall’s Multistate Foster Care Data Archive. We examine rates of entry into care for groups of children over time defined by their age, their race, and the characteristics of the population in their home county.
Article
Full-text available
A powerful coalition of forces has made what they term “Racial Disproportionality” the central issue in child welfare today. They use this phrase to describe the fact that black children represent a larger percentage of the foster care population than they do of the general population. This coalition is led by the Casey-CSSP Alliance, which includes the foundations that provide virtually all the private funding available for research and advocacy in child welfare. The coalition includes organizations and individuals who with these foundations have played a major role in shaping policy over the past decades.This Movement uses the term Racial Disproportionality to indicate that there is something wrong with the system that removes black children to foster care, and it identifies the problem as primarily one of racial discrimination by child welfare decision makers. It calls for addressing the problem by reducing the number of black children removed to foster care to achieve what it characterizes as “racial equity” – the removal of black children at the same rate as white children.The Racial Disproportionality Movement has already had significant impact. Child welfare leaders proclaim that Racial Disproportionality is the major issue of the day. Many states have accepted the Casey-CSSP Alliance’s lead, and are instituting measures designed to reduce the number of black children removed to foster care. Important federal officials and agencies have endorsed the Alliance’s approach, as have leading private child welfare organizations.This article analyzes the Racial Disproportionality Movement, and the underlying issues. Child Protective Service agencies remove children to foster care, with court approval, based on reports of child maltreatment, and investigations that substantiate that maltreatment has occurred, and that it poses such serious threats to child safety as to justify removal. The goal is to protect children from repeated maltreatment, to provide services to the parents that enable the children to be safely returned home, and to move children on to adoption if the parents prove incapable of rehabilitation. Black children are identified by child protective services as victimized by serious maltreatment, and in need of the protection that removal, foster care and adoption represent, at higher rates than white children. A central question is whether black children are in fact disproportionately victimized by maltreatment, and in need of child protective services, as compared to their general population percentages. If they are, then they should be removed at rates proportionate to their maltreatment rates, which will necessarily be disproportionate to their population percentages. Racial equity for black children would mean providing them with protection against maltreatment equivalent to what white children get. If black children are in fact disproportionately victimized by maltreatment, the Movement’s proposed reform solutions would put black children at risk for being victimized by maltreatment at higher rates than white children.The evidence indicates that black children are indeed disproportionately victimized by maltreatment. This is to be expected given that black families are disproportionately characterized by the risk factors associated with maltreatment, including severe poverty, serious substance abuse, and single parenting. This is reason for concern and for reform action. And it does represent an important racial problem, even if not the problem identified by the Movement. Children may need the protection provided by removal to foster care, but children who suffer maltreatment and endure lengthy stays in foster care will be hurt by these experiences, and will as a group not do well later in life. Society should act to prevent the maltreatment, and should feel additional pressure to act because this maltreatment disproportionately affects black children. But the form of action should be quite different from that proposed by the Movement. We should expand programs designed to prevent maltreatment from occurring in the first place. We should provide greater support to families at risk of falling into the kind of dysfunction that results in maltreatment. This should in turn result in a reduction in the percentage of black children in foster care, without putting those children at undue risk.To date there has been no adequate debate on the issues at the heart of the Racial Disproportionality Movement, because the Casey-CSSP Alliance and its allies have overwhelmingly dominated the discourse. This Article is designed to illuminate the issues surrounding the current racial picture of child maltreatment and foster care, so that policy makers can take action that will protect rather than endanger black children.
Article
Full-text available
Overrepresentation of certain racial/ethnic groups in the foster care system is one of the most troubling and challenging issues in child welfare today. In response, many states have started reporting outcomes by race and ethnicity to identify disproportionately high rates of system contact. The identification of disproportional representation is the first step in developing targeted strategies to address disproportionality--highlighting where resources should be directed and guiding future research. However, present and future efforts to address disproportionality must be accompanied by statistically sound and meaningful methods of measurement. In this article, we argue for the adoption of a relative rate measure of representation--a "Disparity Index"--as the primary instrument for assessing racial disparity in child welfare.
Article
The issue of the disproportionate identification and placement of racial/ethnic minorities in special education has been investigated extensively. One of the most useful tools in this research is the risk ratio, which compares one racial/ethnic group's risk of receiving special education and related services to that of all other students. The risk ratio can be used to calculate disproportionality at both the state and school-district levels. However, analysts often encounter difficulties in applying the risk ratio to districtlevel data due to variable demographic distributions and small numbers of students in either the racial/ethnic group or the comparison group. We propose two modifications to the risk ratio for dealing with these problems.
Article
Recent studies of Italian Fascism have focused on ritual, spectacle, commemoration and myth, even as they also take seriously the totalitarian thrust of Fascism. But whereas this new culturalist orientation has usefully pointed beyond earlier reductionist approaches, it has often accented style and myth as opposed to their opposites, which might be summed up as 'substance'. Some of the aspirations fuelling Fascism, responding to perceived inadequacies in the mainstream liberal and Marxist traditions, pointed beyond myth and style as they helped to shape the Fascist self-understanding - and Fascist practice. This article seeks to show how the interplay of substance, style and myth produced a particular - and deeply flawed - totalitarian dynamic in Fascist Italy.
Article
This study reviews the records of 3936 children and adolescents under the age of 17 who were referred to the public receiving home for suspected maltreatment. The study examines the correlation between background characteristics (i.e. age, gender, race/ethnicity, reasons for referral), and case outcome decisions (i.e. case open to service, out-of-home placement, and family reunification), using bivariate and multivariate analysis. Racial/ethnic differences are observed. Compared to census data, African Americans are the only over-represented group. Latinos, Asians, and Anglos are all under-represented. Significant differences were detected when race/ethnicity was analyzed with respect to the case opened, length of stay in the foster care, and length of time for family reunification. African American subjects are consistently observed in each outcome category at higher proportions than all other racial/ethnic groups, both mainstream and minority populations.
Article
One hanging question in child welfare policy and research is whether there is an artificial overrepresentation of the poor in child welfare caseloads or whether this reflects the co-occurrence of poverty and need. In order to address this question, this study uses data from child welfare (report, assessment, service and re-report), income maintenance, special education, hospitals, juvenile court, public mental health treatment, and census data. Poor children reported to child welfare are compared to non-poor children reported to child welfare and also to poor children not reported to child welfare. Poor children reported for maltreatment had greater risk factors at the parent and neighborhood levels and higher rates of negative outcomes than children in either comparison group. Among children reported for maltreatment, poor children have worse outcomes, both within child welfare (e.g., recurrence) and outside of child welfare (e.g. juvenile court, hospitalization for violence) than non-poor children. These data suggest that the overrepresentation of poor children is driven largely by the presence of increased risk among the poor children that come to the attention of child welfare rather than high levels of systemic class bias.
Article
This paper uses Census and child welfare report data from Missouri (1999, 2000 & 2001) to determine if Whites and Blacks are reported for child maltreatment at similar or different rates while controlling for poverty and racial homogeneity. We do not find evidence for high levels of racial disproportionality once poverty is controlled. Poverty is generally associated with higher rates of reporting for both races. We found some evidence of differential sensitivity, with the relationship between poverty and report rate being somewhat stronger for Whites than for Blacks.
Article
To review the literature on the relationships between neighborhoods and child maltreatment and identify future directions for research in this area. A search of electronic databases and a survey of experts yielded a list of 25 studies on the influence of geographically defined neighborhoods on child maltreatment. These studies were then critically reviewed by an interdisciplinary research team. Numerous studies demonstrate that child maltreatment cases are concentrated in disadvantaged areas. A number of socio-economic characteristics of neighborhoods have been shown to correlate with child maltreatment rates as measured by official reports to child protective service agencies. Only a few studies examine direct measures of parenting behaviors associated with maltreatment, and these show a weaker relationship with neighborhood disadvantage. Moreover, the processes that link neighborhood conditions to either maltreatment reports or parenting behaviors are not yet confirmed by the research literature. Selection bias, neighborhood definitions and spatial influences are largely uncontrolled in the existing research. We propose a framework for pursuing further study of neighborhoods and child maltreatment that addresses the gaps in the current literature. Neighborhood-based strategies to prevent and reduce child maltreatment will be enhanced by research that provides a better understanding of how neighborhood conditions act as stressors or supports for families at risk of child maltreatment.
Article
Disproportionality of racial and ethic representation in investigation and disposition of child maltreatment was examined using National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) data for more than 700,000 children in five states. State disproportionality representation indices (DRI) and disparity indices (DI) were constructed for children who were the subject of an investigation of child abuse and neglect and for children who were found to be victims of maltreatment by child protective services agencies. In all five states and for both indices, African American children were overrepresented and White children consistently underrepresented at the stage of investigation for each of states. At the determination of victimization, results for African Americans and Whites using the DRI varied greatly from county to county, but demonstrated little disproportionality.
Child Welfare Services Reports for California
  • B Needell
  • D Webster
  • M Armijo
  • S Lee
  • S Cuccaro-Alamin
  • T Shaw
  • W Dawson
  • W Piccus
  • J Magruder
  • M Exel
  • A Conley
  • J Smith
  • A Dunn
  • K Frerer
  • Putnam Hornstein
Needell, B., Webster, D., Armijo, M., Lee, S., Cuccaro-Alamin, S., Shaw, T., Dawson, W., Piccus, W., Magruder, J., Exel, M., Conley, A., Smith, J., Dunn, A., Frerer, K., & Putnam Hornstein, E. (2010). Child Welfare Services Reports for California. Retrieved from: http://cssr.berkeley.edu/CWSCMSreports.
African American Children in Foster Care: Additional HHS Assistance Needed to Help States Reduce the Proportion in Care. Retrieved from
  • Washington
  • Dc
Washington, DC: Government Printing Office Retrieved from http://www.acf.hhs. gov/programs/cb/stats_research/afcars/tar/report17.htm. United States Government Accountability Office (2007). African American Children in Foster Care: Additional HHS Assistance Needed to Help States Reduce the Proportion in Care. Retrieved from. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07816.pdf.
How neighborhoods influence child maltreatment: A review of the literature and alternative pathways Race matters in child welfare. The overrepresentation of African American children in the system
  • C J Coulton
  • D S Crampton
  • M Irwin
  • J C Spilsbury
  • J E Korbin
Coulton, C. J., Crampton, D. S., Irwin, M., Spilsbury, J. C., & Korbin, J. E. (2007). How neighborhoods influence child maltreatment: A review of the literature and alternative pathways. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31(11–12), 1117−1142. Derezotes, D., Poertner, J., & Testa, M. (Eds.). (2005). Race matters in child welfare. The overrepresentation of African American children in the system. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America.
Toward a community-based approach to racial disproportionality
  • D E Roberts
Roberts, D. E. (2007). Toward a community-based approach to racial disproportionality. Protecting Children, 22(1), 4−9.
Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4): Report to Congress Administration for Children and Families Measuring racial disparity in child welfare
  • A J Sedlak
  • J Mettenburg
  • M Basena
  • I Petta
  • K Mcpherson
  • A Greene
  • S Li
  • T V Shaw
  • E Putnam-Hornstein
  • J Magruder
  • B Needell
Sedlak, A. J., Mettenburg, J., Basena, M., Petta, I., McPherson, K., Greene, A., & Li, S. (2010). Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4): Report to Congress. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. Shaw, T. V., Putnam-Hornstein, E., Magruder, J., & Needell, B. (2008). Measuring racial disparity in child welfare. Child Welfare, 87(2), 23−36.
447−461. Data Accountability Center. Methods for Assessing Racial/Ethnic Disproportionality in Special Education: A Technical Assistance Guide
  • Race
Race, ethnicity, and case outcomes in child protective services. Children and Youth Services Review, 26, 447−461. Data Accountability Center. Methods for Assessing Racial/Ethnic Disproportionality in Special Education: A Technical Assistance Guide. Retrieved from: http://www. ideadata.org/docs/DisproportionalityTechnicalAssistance; http://www.ideadata. org/docs/DisproportionalityTechnical AssistanceGuide.pdf.
Entry and exit disparities in the Tennessee foster care system Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children's Child Welfare Outcomes
  • F Wulczyn
  • B Lery
  • J Haight
Wulczyn, F., Lery, B., & Haight, J. (2006). Entry and exit disparities in the Tennessee foster care system. Chapin Hall Discussion Paper. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children's Bureau (2005). Child Welfare Outcomes 2002–2005: Report to Congress.Washington, DC: Government Printing Office Retrieved from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/ pubs/cwo05/index.htm. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children's Bureau (2010). AFCARS Report — Preliminary FY 2009 Estimates as of July 2010 (17).
The racial disproportionality movement in child welfare: False facts and dangerous directions Using the risk ratio to assess racial/ethnic disproportionality in special education at the school-district level Understanding racial and ethnic disparity in child welfare and juvenile justice
  • Washington
  • Dc America
  • E Bartholet
  • J Bollmer
  • J Bethel
  • R Garrison-Mogren
  • M Brauen
Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America. Bartholet, E. (2009). The racial disproportionality movement in child welfare: False facts and dangerous directions. Arizona Law Review, 51, 871−932. Bollmer, J., Bethel, J., Garrison-Mogren, R., & Brauen, M. (2007). Using the risk ratio to assess racial/ethnic disproportionality in special education at the school-district level. Journal of Special Education, 41(3), 186−198. Chapin Hall Center for Children (2008). Understanding racial and ethnic disparity in child welfare and juvenile justice. Chicago: Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago.
Race matters in child welfare. The overrepresentation of African American children in the system
  • R B Hill
Hill, R. B. (2005). The role of race in foster care placements. In D. Derezotes, J. Poertner, & M. F. Testa (Eds.), Race matters in child welfare. The overrepresentation of African American children in the system (pp. 187−200). Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America.
Methods for Assessing Racial/Ethnic Disproportionality in Special Education: A Technical Assistance Guide
  • Data Accountability
  • Center
Data Accountability Center. Methods for Assessing Racial/Ethnic Disproportionality in Special Education: A Technical Assistance Guide. Retrieved from: http://www. ideadata.org/docs/DisproportionalityTechnicalAssistance; http://www.ideadata. org/docs/DisproportionalityTechnical AssistanceGuide.pdf.
  • B Needell
  • D Webster
  • M Armijo
  • S Lee
  • S Cuccaro-Alamin
  • T Shaw
  • W Dawson
  • W Piccus
  • J Magruder
  • M Exel
  • A Conley
  • J Smith
  • A Dunn
  • K Frerer
  • E Putnam Hornstein
Needell, B., Webster, D., Armijo, M., Lee, S., Cuccaro-Alamin, S., Shaw, T., Dawson, W., Piccus, W., Magruder, J., Exel, M., Conley, A., Smith, J., Dunn, A., Frerer, K., & Putnam Hornstein, E. (2010). Child Welfare Services Reports for California. Retrieved from: http://cssr.berkeley.edu/CWSCMSreports.
Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4): Report to Congress
  • A J Sedlak
  • J Mettenburg
  • M Basena
  • I Petta
  • K Mcpherson
  • A Greene
  • S Li
Sedlak, A. J., Mettenburg, J., Basena, M., Petta, I., McPherson, K., Greene, A., & Li, S. (2010). Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4): Report to Congress. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.
Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children's Bureau (2005). Child Welfare Outcomes 2002-2005: Report to Congress.Washington, DC: Government Printing Office Retrieved from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/ pubs/cwo05/index.htm.