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March 2016Vol. 17, No. 1Addressing Racial Inequalities in Fresno County, CA

As part of its institutional analysis initiative, the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) examined the Fresno County, CA, Department of Social Services (DSS) to determine the contributors to racial inequalities in its child welfare system. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, CSSP collected data and assessed the effectiveness of strategies DSS used to address racial disproportionality and disparities. The subsequent report, Fresno County Department of Social Services: Confronting Racial Inequities and Disproportionality to Improve Child Welfare Outcomes for Children & Families, presents the findings from the institutional analysis, which include the following:

  • DSS did not act with a sense of urgency to safely return African-American children to their families or to find other safe, permanent, and loving options.
  • DSS did not have the tools and protocols in place to support workers in understanding the unique strengths and problems faced by African-American families.
  • Families' unique strengths and needs were not assessed, so service plans were created with similar requirements for all families.
  • Services tended to be centrally located in Fresno rather than in the communities where African-American parents lived, and the operating hours of service providers were inconvenient for working parents.

The report also describes several short- and long-term strategies DSS implemented to address the findings, including focusing on practice model implementation, community involvement, system alignment, and continuous quality improvement.

To view the report, visit

(475 KB). For more information about the CSSP institutional analysis initiative, visit