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Michigan’s Child Welfare System. Why is Overrepresentation a Critical Issue?. Overrepresentation: General label for both racial disproportionality and racial disparity.

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Michigan’s Child Welfare System

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Michigan s child welfare system

Michigan’s Child Welfare System

Why is Overrepresentation

a Critical Issue?

Overrepresentation general label for both racial disproportionality and racial disparity

Overrepresentation: General label for both racial disproportionality and racial disparity

  • Racial Disproportionality - A situation where racial minorities occur in the child welfare population at rates higher than the occurrence in general population

  • Racial Disparity - Occurs when the rate of disproportionality of one racial group, (e.g., African Americans) exceeds that of a comparison group (e.g., White Americans)

High stakes

High Stakes

  • 600,000 Children in Foster Care

  • Reason for Placement

    • Neglect65%

    • Abuse25%

  • Almost 50% of Children in care are 11 Years or older

  • Native American Youth have the highest suicide rate of any group of youth in the U.S.

Michigan s child welfare system

  • For Children who stay in foster care four or more years, the median number of placements is 37 (varies widely)

  • African American Children represent 15% of all US Children, but account for 28% entering care in 2001.

    • 38% of those Children are still in care

The picture for older youth

The Picture for Older Youth

  • Generally teens who ‘age out’ of care entered as teens


  • 50% graduated from High School or have a GED (85% of all youth between 18 - 24 have graduated/GED)

  • 25% endured a period of homelessness

  • 70% have not maintained a job for a year

  • One in four Males and one in ten Females have spent time in jail

Wayne county s picture

Wayne County’s Picture

  • 2,310 youth in care are 14 and older

    • 13 y/o503

    • 14 y/o548

    • 15 y/o478

    • 16 y/o466

    • 17 y/o397

    • 18 y/o264

    • 19 and older157

Wayne county s picture1

Wayne County’s Picture

  • 1,971 of the older youth in care are African American

  • 4 American Indian/Alaskan Native

  • 307 White

  • 45 have Hispanic ethnicity

  • 1,200 Female

  • 1,090 Male

Wayne county s picture2

Wayne County’s Picture

429 Currently in a Foster Home

381 in a Private Child Placing Institution

74 in a Public Shelter

591 in Relative Home

Michigan s picture

Michigan’s Picture

What are the contributing issues cssp survey

What are the Contributing Issues(CSSP Survey)

  • Confusion between poverty and neglect

  • System inability to educate public & partners on abuse, neglect in a context of cultural issues

  • Substance use & mental health services and housing

  • Not enough prevention and family preservation in neighborhoods

Contributing issues continued

Contributing Issues continued

  • Lack of well-trained Gatekeepers -

    • What assumptions/biases are operative? (color “blindness’ leads to to biased ‘lens’ and treatment)

  • Culturally competent staff

    • Training

    • Supervision

  • Historic lack of trust of the system on the part of minority communities

  • Cultural biases at key decision points

  • State management disproportionally white

Contributing issues continued1

Contributing Issues continued

  • Resources

  • Individual perception, denial of racism within system

  • Defensiveness about issues makes it difficult to discuss

  • Lack of data about effectiveness of all services, including foster care

  • Not giving parents and youth a voice

  • No accountability for system outcomes

  • Connection between neglect, foster care, juvenile justice

Where do we go from here

Where Do We Go From Here?

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