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November 2008Vol. 9, No. 9Measuring Racial Equity in Child Welfare

An article in the journal Child Welfare describes the use of a racial equity "scorecard" to determine disproportionality at key points in the child welfare process in order to improve policies and practices and reduce disparity in a jurisdiction's child welfare system. The scorecard, developed by the Casey Foundation/Center for the Study of Social Policy Alliance on Racial Equity, measures involvement with the child welfare system by race at six key points, or "gateways":

  • Acceptance of a hotline report for investigation
  • Assessment or investigation
  • In-home service provision or out-of-home placement
  • Type of placement
  • Permanency goal
  • Time to permanency

By collecting data on involvement by race at these points in the child welfare process, the scorecard can pinpoint where improvements are most needed. Communities can then develop strategies targeted at reducing disproportionality in those areas. The scorecard also can help track changes in involvement by race over time to evaluate the effectiveness of a community's efforts.

The article highlights a county in Iowa that used the racial equity scorecard to address the disproportionate representation of Native American children in the child welfare system. Informed by the scorecard data, the community implemented strategies to reduce the involvement of Native American families at the initial gateways. The two main strategies were (1) a prevention strategy to educate families about their rights and responsibilities and (2) use of the Parents as Partners mentoring concept. While results are preliminary, anecdotal evidence suggests improved outcomes for families and increased collaboration among members of the community to address racial equity.

"Evaluating Multisystemic Efforts to Impact Disproportionality Through Key Decision Points," by Dennette Derezotes, Brad Richardson, Connie Bear King, Julia Kleinschmit-Rembert, and Betty Pratt, was published in Child Welfare, Volume 87(2). The article was part of the special issue "Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare" and can be purchased online: