Monday, July 26, 2010

Race and Disproportionality

Reading the NYT Week in Review article on Race, perhaps I should be reticent about engaging in this topic.  But, it is important, and it isn't all just hand-wringing.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, in partnership with Casey Family Programs, has done some remarkable, ground-breaking work on the issue of disproportionality in the child welfare (child abuse and neglect) system.  Check out the DFPS website  on this topic, where I got this:
Data from 2007 shows African-American children in Texas were almost twice as likely as Anglo or Hispanic children to be reported as victims of child abuse or neglect. Even after adjusting for this higher number of reports the number of substantiated reports of abuse and neglect involving African-American children was also disproportionately high. So was the number of African American children removed from their families. Even when other factors are taken into account African American children spend significantly more time in foster care or other substitute care, are less likely to be reunified with their families, and wait longer for adoption than Anglo or Hispanic children.
I heard more about national work in this area at the recent conference of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, under the program banner "Courts Catalyzing Change: Achieving Equity and Fairness in Foster Care Initiative (CCC)", funded by Casey Family Programs and supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), brings together judicial officers and other systems’ experts to set a national agenda for court-based training, research, and reform initiatives to reduce the disproportionate representation of children of color in dependency court systems.

As is commonly understood, the criminal justice system has parallel issues, perhaps in even starker statistical terms.  The last time I checked, African-Americans were about 11.5% of Texans, and about 48% of the prison population.  I hope to develop this angle further.

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