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May 2023Vol. 24, No. 4Using a Continuous Quality Improvement Approach to Advance Racial Equity in Child Welfare

Children and families of color continue to be disproportionately represented in the child welfare system. To disrupt processes that cause disproportionality, child welfare professionals should be culturally aware and conscious of personal bias when making intervention or placement decisions. Change will also require an intentional, continued focus on embedding equity into child welfare practice.

A recent bulletin from the Capacity Building Center for States, Spotlight On Racial Equity and Continuous Quality Improvement in Child Welfare, proposes a continuous quality improvement (CQI) approach to address racial inequities in child welfare. CQI is a quality management philosophy that focuses on defining, measuring, and improving practices and policies.

In the bulletin, the Center for States proposes using CQI practices that consider racial equity, diversity, and inclusion in order to bring about substantial change. A main facet of this is ongoing, collaborative partnership with youth and families with lived expertise in the child welfare system. The following are recommendations for this combined CQI and racial equity approach:

  • Ensure support is in place to enable individuals with lived expertise and other community partners to participate on your CQI team.
  • Learn from and share decision-making power with those most affected by child welfare programs and practices.
  • Seek, listen to, and incorporate the perspectives of families, community members, and staff of color to provide contextual knowledge to the data and explore root causes of disproportionality.
  • Collect, use, and analyze disaggregated data to identify trends, strengths, and concerns among populations who have experienced inequitable treatment and disproportionate outcomes.
  • Collect qualitative data that can add detail to and augment understanding of what is summarized in aggregate data.
  • Transfer data into user-friendly, culturally responsive formats and languages tailored to community and system partners, including families.

The bulletin also features a variety of resources that can be used to encourage conversations, provide practice recommendations, and promote action, including the following:


Learning Experiences and Archived Webinars