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March 2009Vol. 10, No. 2Strategies to Reduce Disproportionality in Child Welfare

A new study from Casey Family Programs looks at efforts made by 13 public child welfare agencies to develop solutions to the problem of disproportionality and disparities for children and families of color in the child welfare system. In the study, author Kristin J. Ward examined the effectiveness of the Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC) method for generating strategies for reducing the disproportionate numbers of children of color in foster care.

The study found that the BSC program effectively mobilized child welfare agencies. In addition, the BSC helped agencies test and implement strategies to equalize how the system treats children of color and their families. Positive outcomes included:

  • Increased community engagement and development of cross-system leadership at the local level
  • Increased education and awareness of agency staff and community stakeholders
  • High satisfaction with the BSC methodology, resources, and staff
  • Recognition that additional support and resources are needed to sustain the changes made

The full report, Breakthrough Series Collaborative on Reducing Disproportionality and Disparities for Children and Families of Color in Child Welfare: Outcomes Evaluation, and its executive summary are available online:

This BSC is the latest in a series sponsored by Casey Family Programs. Other BSC efforts have focused on improving health care for foster children, recruiting and retaining resource families, and kinship care. In a BSC, teams from around the country focus on a specific issue for 1 year, during which time they test multiple ideas, strategies, and tools on a very small scale at their pilot sites. They simultaneously share what they have learned with other teams via the Internet, phone conferences, and three 2-day meetings. The most successful field-tested and measurable strategies and tools are then rapidly introduced throughout the teams' jurisdictions or systems.

Information about the entire BSC series of studies can be found on the Casey Family Programs website: