AfriGeneas Adoption Forum
Race and Foster Care
Race and Foster Care: Questions Without Answers
Published: May 17, 2002
by: Susan Phillips
Some problems are so big, they become almost invisible. For those of us concerned with improving children's lives, the bland label of disproportionality covers one such problem: the stubborn reality that black children are over-represented on the downside of so many indicators of child well-being. Low birthweight. Health problems. School suspension. Academic failure. Learning disability. Incarceration. Entry into foster care.
Recently, I came across an analysis that provided an in-depth look at one facet of the issue: the likelihood of black children in foster care being reunified with their families, as compared to white children.
The numbers are stark: White children in foster care are four times more likely to be reunified with their families than black children. And this racial disparity persists, even when other variables that have been shown to play a role in reunification�such as parental substance abuse; education levels; abuse and neglect allegations; age of children at the time they are removed from their families and whether children are placed with kin or strangers�are taken into account.
These are the findings of The Role of Race in Parental Reunification. It is one of six recent papers based on data from the National Study of Protective, Preventive and Reunification Services Delivered to Children and Their Families, and published together in December 2001. For this one, researchers from Westat and the Chapin Hall Center for Children looked at the cases of 1,034 foster children included in the 1994 study.