Racial Disproportionality & Disparate Outcomes
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Racial Disproportionality & Disparate Outcomes in the Child Welfare System... Reflections and Future Possibilities Oronde A. Miller Casey Family Programs. DMC Resource Center Fifth Annual Conference November 30 – December 1, 2006. Holiday Inn Downtown Des Moines, Iowa. Our Personal Story.

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Racial Disproportionality & Disparate Outcomesin the Child Welfare System...Reflections and Future PossibilitiesOronde A. MillerCasey Family Programs

DMC Resource Center

Fifth Annual Conference

November 30 – December 1, 2006

Holiday Inn Downtown

Des Moines, Iowa

Our personal story
Our Personal Story

  • Rural Ohio, 1970

  • Ultimatum and coercion

  • Khari Miller

  • Struggle, determination, aloneness, confusion

  • Oronde Miller

  • Foster care

  • Separation

  • Adoption – Part 1

  • Disruption & Emergency placement

  • Adoption – Part 2, 1974


Our personal story fast forward
Our Personal Story… Fast Forward

  • Cancer… Hodgkin's Lymphoma, 2000

    • Diagnosis & Treatment

    • Coordinating hospice

    • Assumptions and questions

    • Keeping siblings together

    • Medical records and family history

  • Re-introduction to child welfare

    • National Center on Permanency for African American Children, 2000

    • Teen Mothers Program, 2002

    • Child Welfare League of America, 2003

    • Institute for Family & Child Well-Being, 2004

    • Casey Family Programs, 2005/2006


Public agency s success failure
Public Agency’s Success & Failure


  • “Permanency” for children

  • Commitment to siblings

  • Can we be thankful, reflective and critical simultaneously?


  • Voluntary relinquishment

  • Turned away

  • Guilt, Regret, Powerlessness

    … Further exploration of this notion of long-term spiritual, psychological, economic & sociopolitical impact of child welfare involvement on individuals and communities


Role of Structural Racism

  • Definition of Structural Racism:

    …the complex ways in which historical oppression, culture, ideology, political economy, public policy and institutional practices interact to produce forms of racial sorting that reproduce and reinforce a hierarchy of color that privileges whiteness and marginalizes blackness.

    Definition developed by The Aspen Institute. Retrieved online at:



Casey Family Programs

Role of Structural Racism (cont.)

The Structural Racism lens allows us to see and understand…

  • …the racial legacy of our past

    • What is the historical context?

  • …how racism persists in our national policies, institutional practices, and cultural representations

    • What is the present-day manifestation?

  • …how racism is transmitted and either amplified or mitigated through public, private, and community institutions

    • What is the role of institutions?

  • …how individuals internalize and respond to racialized structures.

    • What is the response of individuals?

      Based on ideas shared in the publication Structural Racism and Community Building; published by The Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change. June 2004. p.12.


Casey Family Programs

Critical issues related to eliminating racial disproportionality disparate outcomes
Critical Issues Related to Eliminating Racial Disproportionality & Disparate Outcomes

  • Child “Protection” vs. Family Preservation

    • Role of child welfare… punitive action vs. family support

    • Resolving the tension… Is it a choice or a balance?

  • Involvement of Elders, Parents, Youth and Communities

    • Case planning and decision-making process

    • Ongoing systems improvement efforts… practice, policy, legislation

  • Termination of Parental Rights

    • Cultural / ethical / moral legitimacy of a concept

    • Implications for family preservation efforts and permanency considerations

  • Critical Role of Judges

    • “I don’t think it’s my place to second-guess the recommendations of the child welfare professionals… they are the experts and they know what’s best.”


The work moving forward
The Work Moving Forward… Disproportionality & Disparate Outcomes

  • Organizational Culture and Values

    • Worldview of the agency

    • Assumptions about families and communities

    • Subjective nature of our work?

    • How much support and assistance is enough? Who decides?

  • Child Welfare Practice and Policy

    • Working with families and communities… Practice and policy

    • Internal system improvements... Coordination and policy

    • Alternatives to formal child welfare intervention

    • Nature of support before, during and after formal intervention

  • Multi-Systems Coordination

    • Child welfare; juvenile justice; education; comprehensive health care; etc.

    • Shared worldview and values?


The work moving forward1
The Work Moving Forward… Disproportionality & Disparate Outcomes

  • Starting somewhere

  • Moving forward

  • Consensus is not needed.

  • What can you do by next Tuesday?

  • Did it work?

  • Build the case.

  • Share it with others.


Tenets of courageous conversations
Tenets of Courageous Conversations Disproportionality & Disparate Outcomes

  • Speak your truth.

  • Expect and accept non-closure.

  • Experience discomfort.

  • Stay engaged.

    Tenets of Courageous Conversations

    taken from Knowing Who You Are E-Learning

    Casey Family Programs


Courageous conversations important considerations
Courageous Conversations: Disproportionality & Disparate OutcomesImportant Considerations

  • Understanding the role of a facilitator

  • Understanding how to deal with conflict

  • Creating a safe space for people to address their issues

  • Developing an ability to read dynamics in the room

  • Recognizing conflict and addressing it in a timely fashion

  • Taking care of yourself, the facilitator


We can all make a difference
We Can All Make a Difference! Disproportionality & Disparate Outcomes

  • Birth families can make a difference!

  • Youth in care can make a difference!

  • Foster care alum can make a difference!

  • Our communities can make a difference!

  • Resource families can make a difference!

  • Human service professionals can make a difference!

Are we satisfied
Are we satisfied? Disproportionality & Disparate Outcomes

We can create an equitable & just system of

family and child well-being.

It can happen…

in this country and in our lifetime!

It must begin and continue with us as individuals…

committing to work with one another!

It’s Healing Time!

Contact Information: Disproportionality & Disparate Outcomes

Oronde A. Miller

Director, General Systems Improvement

Casey Family Programs

1808 Eye Street, NW – Fifth Floor

Washington, DC 20006

Phone: (202) 728-2015

Email: [email protected]


Casey Family Programs