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July/August 2006Vol. 7, No. 6Survey of Practices to Reduce Disproportionality

While a number of studies have documented the overrepresentation of minority children in the child welfare system, effective strategies to address this problem have been scant. A recent survey of State child welfare directors asked them to rate 42 promising practices for reducing overrepresentation based on how widespread each practice was in their State and how supported each practice was by staffing and funding.

Thirty-one State child welfare directors responded to the survey. In addition, disproportionality for each minority group in each State's child welfare system was determined. Comparing disproportionality in a State with the promising practices being implemented in that State led to the following conclusions:

  • States with the highest levels of overrepresentation for Black children tended to have the highest number of promising practices in place, including subsidized guardianship.
  • States with the highest levels of overrepresentation of Black and Hispanic children were more likely to have satellite offices or community immersion programs for child welfare.
  • States with the lowest levels of overrepresentation tended to have less widespread but more targeted, local programs for reducing overrepresentation.
  • States with the lowest rates of overrepresentation of Black and Hispanic children were most likely to have dependency drug courts and cultural competence training.
  • The majority of States used targeted community partnerships, communitywide parenting programs, culturally diverse foster care recruitment, and substance abuse facilities for parents and children, but the scope and level of implementation varied.

The complete study, Disproportionate Representation in the Child Welfare System: Emerging Promising Practices Survey, was written by K. F. Vandergrift for the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators, an affiliate of the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA). It is available on the APHSA website: (PDF - 297 KB)

Related Items

The topic of minority overrepresentation in child welfare was explored in Children's Bureau Express in the following articles:

  • "Two Studies of Racial Disproportionality" (December 2005/January 2006)
  • "Overrepresentation of Minority Children: How the Child Welfare System Is Responding" (July/August 2004)
  • "Addressing Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare" (November 2003)
  • "Seeking Causes: Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare" (August 2003)