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Reducing Disproportionality in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice. Patricia Parker, CSW. P.A. Parker Consultants, Milwaukee, WI Lori Rogerson, MSW Des Moines Public Schools Des Moines, IA. Brad Richardson, Ph.D. Univ. of IA School of Social Work DMC Resource Center &

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Reducing Disproportionality in Child

Welfare and Juvenile Justice

Patricia Parker, CSW.

P.A. Parker Consultants,

Milwaukee, WI

Lori Rogerson, MSW

Des Moines Public Schools

Des Moines, IA

Brad Richardson, Ph.D.

Univ. of IA School of Social Work

DMC Resource Center &

National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice /

NRC-In Home Services



B-6 Reducing Disproportionality in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice

This workshop will present research on two approaches for reducing disproportionality in child welfare. It will also provide empirical evidence of the effectiveness of practice and systems change which correlates with increased culturally-competent services. An approach using ethnographic interviewing techniques will also be discussed.

what we ll cover
What we’ll cover . . .
  • Context - some background on disproportionality in Iowa – CW JJ Educ
  • What the data tell us
  • Interventions & Promising Practices
  • What parents and children tell us
  • Context and implementation of a strengths based approach using cultural competency and an ethnographic approach

Extreme Disproportion

(Robert Hill; Overrepresentation of Children of Color in Foster Care in 2000)

14) New Mexico 3.74

13) Iowa 3.76

6) Oregon 4 .38

5) Wyoming 4.53

4) Minnesota 4.77

3) Idaho 4.84

2) New Hampshire 4.93

1) Wisconsin 5.48


Extreme Disproportion

(Robert Hill; Overrepresentation of Children of Color in Foster Care in 2000)

13) Iowa 3.76

6) Oregon 4 .38

5) Wyoming 4.53

4) Minnesota 4.77

3) Idaho 4.84

2) New Hampshire 4.93

1) Wisconsin 5.48

0) Polk County 5.50

state efforts to address disproportionality in cw jj
State Efforts to Address Disproportionality In CW & JJ

DMC Committee developed - 2000

DMC Resource Center at University of Iowa –SSW, National Center for Family Centered Practice, 2002

Child Welfare Better Results for Kids Redesign includes focus on disproportionality - 2003

Minority Youth and Families Initiative (MYFI) – 2004-5

Executive Order #5 October 2007

HF2393 requires racial impact statements 2008

leadership around cw jj and disproportionality
Leadership around CW, JJ and Disproportionality

Governor’s Office

Executive Order establishing Youth Race & Detention Task Force

Remarks at 2007 Annual DMC Conference, “Linking CW, JJ, Education & Health to Reduce Racial Disparities”

Supreme Court

Chief Justice “Children’s Justice Initiative” focusing on both CW & JJ


Passed HF2393 requiring minority impact statement on disproportionate or unique impacts

intervention polk county myfi
Intervention - Polk County MYFI

MYFI Practice Guide for Afr Am families (April 2008) - based on the Des Moines MYFI demonstration project

Previous program evaluations (outcomes, practice, participant feedback)

Current data under review – program, administrative, participant, NAPCWA disproportionality tool

community partnership for protecting children
Community Partnership forProtecting Children

Monthly meetings

Cross sectional participation

Motivated by non-governmental agencies

Undoing Racism training

parent partners
Parent Partners

Parents helping parents

Overseen by Visiting Nurse Services

Parents who successfully closed their child welfare cases helping parents newly in the system

family team meetings
Family Team Meetings

Implemented by DHS

Intended to build informal community supports

Also designed to engage those who would otherwise be very resistant

key services practice improvements polk county
Key Services/Practice ImprovementsPolk County

Community-based services that are individualized

Building on strengths

Meeting the needs of children and families across life domains to promote success, safety and permanence in the home, school and community

Facilitating family team meetings,

Providing community outreach promoting Family Team Decision Making within the African American community engage informal and community-based resources & supports


Documentation of Intervention and Practice Improvement for Replication


Richardson, B.

Forthcoming. Comparative Analysis of Two Community-Based Efforts Designed to Impact

Disproportionality. In McRoy, R et al. The Practice of Social Work: Addressing

Racial Disproportionality and Disparity of Outcomes in Child Welfare.

Washington DC: Child Welfare League of America.

Derezotes, D., Richardson, B. et al.

Forthcoming. Evaluating Multi-systemic Efforts to Impact Disproportionality through Key Decision

Points. In McRoy, R et al. The Practice of Social Work: Addressing

Racial Disproportionality and Disparity of Outcomes in Child Welfare.

Washington DC: Child Welfare League of America.

Richardson, B.

Forthcoming. Measuring Strategies to Reduce Disparities: Utilizing the Disproportionality

Diagnostic Tool. Special Issue on Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice

Disproportionality/Disparity. The Journal of Health & Human Services Administration.


Nellis, A. & Richardson, B.

  • Getting Beyond the Failure: Promising Approaches for Reducing DMC.
  • Journal of Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice.
  • Online First, published on April 22, 2010 as doi:10.1177/1541204009361180.
  • Richardson, Brad.
  • 2008 Comparative Analysis of Two Community-Based Efforts Designed to Impact
  • Disproportionality. Child Welfare Journal, Issue 2,
  • Special Issue: Overrepresentation of Minority Youth in Care.
  • Washington D.C.: Child Welfare League of America, Child Welfare.
  • Derezotes, D., Richardson, B., Bear King, C., Rembert, J. & Pratt, B.
  • 2008 Evaluating Multi-systemic Efforts to Impact Disproportionality through Key Decision
  • Points. Child Welfare Journal, Issue 2,
  • Special Issue: Overrepresentation of Minority Youth in Care
  • Washington D.C.: Child Welfare League of America, Child Welfare.
  • Richardson, Brad et al.
  • Juvenile Detention and Alternatives: Perspectives From Three Counties:
  • Report to the Governor’s Youth Race and Detention Task Force. Iowa City: IA:
  • DMC Resource Center, University of Iowa School of Social Work,
  • National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice.
  • Fabella, D.; Slappey S.; Richardson, B.; Light A. & Christie S.
  • Disproportionality: Developing a Public Agency Strategy.
  • Washington DC: National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators,
  • American Public Human Services Association. Online at:
disproportionality and suspension intervening in the school to prison pipeline

Disproportionality and Suspension: Intervening in the “school to prison pipeline”

Lori Rogerson, MSW

Des Moines Public Schools

focus group facilitator training
Focus GroupFacilitator Training
  • Pat Parker-Strengths Based Practice
  • Nation Resource Center Staff-Focus Group Facilitation
  • DMPS Social Workers and Psychologists
  • Part One: Knowing your Stakeholders
  • Part Two: Relationship Building
  • Part Three: Conducting Focus Groups
  • Part Four: Making it Happen, Next Steps
  • Parents and students perceive that suspension “does not work”
  • Parents and students perceive an interaction between race and suspension
  • Parents and students perceive school staff as lacking in cultural diversity and cultural competence
  • Parents and students agree that in some circumstances suspension is required
  • The district should provide feedback to participants
  • Suspension should be viewed as a process rather than as an action or event
  • Teacher focus groups should take place
  • Administrator and school board focus groups should take place
  • Cultural competency throughout the district
  • Goals should be set for reducing rates
focus group follow up
Focus Group Follow-Up
  • Lack of a connection between students and teachers
  • Teachers and administrators are conflicted about how to deal with students between being supportive with interventions versus punitive sanctions which do not support achievement
  • When parents and schools have a cooperative relationship students benefit
9th Grade Academy North High SchoolSuspension should be viewed as a process rather than as an action or event
  • Non Severe Behavior-Promotes more adult contact to avoid more severe behavior and suspension
    • Discipline Card
      • CI/CO
        • With teacher beginning and end of class
        • With administrator beginning and end of day
9th Grade Academy North High SchoolSuspension should be viewed as a process rather than as an action or event
  • Severe Behavior-Promotes even more adult contact to avoid situations which lead to suspension and loss of academic time
    • Shelter Card
        • Restricted passing
        • Supervised lunch
      • CI/CO
        • With teacher beginning and end of class
        • With administrator beginning and end of day
fall 2009 start of 9 th grade academy
Fall 2009-Start of 9th Grade Academy
  • Attendance-Improved from 2008 Fall Semester
  • Credits Earned-
    • Compared to 10-12, highest at 9th grade
  • Failing Grades-
    • Improved From 346 in 2008 to 193 in 2009

Follow Up Information

  • North High School
  • Joliet Central High School

reducing dmc through strengthening families

Reducing DMC Through Strengthening Families

BACW Conference

May, 2010

National Resource Center for

Family Centered Practice

University of Iowa School of Social Work

100 Oakdale Campus, W206 Oakdale Hall

Iowa City, Iowa 52242

Phone: 319/335-4965

Presenter: Patricia A. Parker


four levels necessary to understand disproportionality and disparity
*Four Levels necessary to Understand Disproportionality and Disparity
  • Family Level
  • Community Level
  • Organizational Level
  • Institutional Level

*Dr. Robert Hill,2009

model for reducing dmc
Model for Reducing DMC
  • Identification and Monitoring
  • Assessing (the collected data
  • Preparation
  • Intervention
  • Evaluation
characteristics of successful dmc intervention programs
Characteristics of Successful DMC Intervention Programs
  • Holistic
  • Individualized treatment Plans
  • Intensive: weekly or daily contact
  • Frequent positive and negative feedback
  • Operate outside the formal juvenile justice system
  • Build on a youth’s strengths
  • Used a socially grounded framework for understanding the youth (ethnographic)
  • Energetic and committed staff.
four principles for reducing recidivism
Four Principles for Reducing Recidivism
  • Risk: Who requires the most intensive programs.
  • Need: What factors should programs target?
  • Treatment: How should programs target risk/need?
  • Fidelity: How well does the implemented program reflect the program design?
targeting crimino genic factors
Targeting Crimino-genic Factors

According to the DMC Technical Assistance Manual, 3rd Edition, for programs to reduce recidivism they must target risk factors that are:

  • Dynamic- amenable to change
  • Criminogenic- associated with criminal conduct
    • Antisocial attitudes, values and beliefs
    • Antisocial peer associations
    • Lack of problem-solving skills
focus change in context of family and community
Focus Change in Context of Family and Community

Two suggested approaches:

  • Ecological or Eco-systemic Perspective
    • Understand and know the child in the context of his/her family
    • Identify stake holders and support from the child’s community
  • Ethnographic Approach
    • Assessing the child’s strengths and needs from a cultural anthropological perspective
cultural competence as defined by james green
Cultural Competence as defined by James Green

Green (1999) argued that “cultural competence means only that the worker has a systematically-learned and tested awareness of the prescribed and proscribed values and behaviors of a specific community, and an ability to carry out professional activities consistent with that awareness “

cultural competence continuum1
Cultural Competence Continuum
  • Cultural Competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes and policies that come together in a system, agency, or professional and enable that system, agency or professional to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. (Cross, 1988)
  • Cultural Competence is a goal an agency or professional strives for.
  • Cultural Competence is a developmental process
  • Where are you and your agency on the continuum?
cultural destructiveness
Cultural Destructiveness
  • the most negative end of the continuum represented by attitudes, policies and practices which are destructive to cultures and therefore to individuals in the cultures.
cultural incapacity
Cultural Incapacity
  • The next position on the continuum is one in which the system or agencies do not intentionally seek to be culturally destructive but rather lack the capacity to help minority clients or communities
  • The system remians extremely biased, believes in the racial superiority of dominant group and assumes a paternal posture towards “lesser” races
  • Assumes “White privilege”
cultural blindness
Cultural Blindness
  • At the mid point on the continuum the system and it’s agencies provide services with the expressed philosophy of being unbiased.
  • They function under the belief that color and culture make no difference and that we are all the same.
  • Culturally blind agencies are characterized by the belief that helping approaches traditionally used by the dominant culture are universally applicable; if the system worked as it should, all people, regardless of race or culture, would be services with equal effectiveness
cultural pre competence
Cultural Pre-Competence
  • This agency realizes it’s weaknesses in serving minorities and attempts to improve some aspects of their services to specific population. Examples are:
    • try new approaches
    • Hire and consult with minority professional
    • Explore new ways to reach and engage minorities in all levels of their organization
    • Initiate cultural sensitivity and competence training
basic cultural competence
Basic Cultural Competence

Characterized by:

  • Acceptance and respect for deference
  • Continuous self assessment regarding culture
  • Careful attention to the dynamics of difference
  • Continuous expansion of cultural knowledge and resources
  • Adaptation of service models to better meet the needs of minorities,
  • Hires unbiased employees
  • Seeks advice and consultation from minority comunities.
advanced cultural competence or proficiency
Advanced Cultural Competence or (proficiency)
  • The most positive point on the continuum. I s characterized by:
    • Holding culture in high esteem
    • Seeks to add to their knowledge base of culturally competent practice bt conducting research
    • Developing new therapeutic approaches based on culture
    • Publishing and disseminating the results of demonstration projects
    • Hires staff who are specialist in cultural competent practice.
cultural awareness model peter muniz and robert chasnoff
CULTURAL AWARENESS MODELPeter Muniz and Robert Chasnoff


Other Cultures


Factors Specific to

One's Own Culture


One's Own Culture


Factors Beyond Culture


Prevention Skills


The Self

ethnography and culturally competent practice
Ethnography and Culturally Competent Practice
  • Ethnography is the study of people within their cultural context.
  • Ethnographers gathers and interpret s information about a particular culture through their experience within that culture;
  • Ethnographers seek to understand a cultural sub-group from an insiders perspective (emic) yet analyze the information as an outsider, (etic).
cultural competent practice borrows two tool from ethnography
Cultural Competent Practice borrows two tool from Ethnography
  • Participant observation; a method of gathering information from a combination of outsider and insider perspectives, then attaching meaning to that information from the context of the culture observed.
  • Ethnographic interviewing; the use of global questioning to elicit information and stories that will help the interviewer understand how informants see and experiences the world.
the functional use of culture to effect lifestyle change
The Functional use of Culture to Effect Lifestyle Change
  • A set of coping skills and survival strategies that have evolved over time to help a group of people transact successfully within their environment or
  • A way of life in society, consisting of prescribed ways of behaving or norms of conduct, beliefs, values, and skills.
what do i need to know about client families in the communities where i work
What do I need to know about client families in the communities where I work?
  • What cultural groups are live in your city?
  • What are the history of those group?
  • How did they have survived and thrived?
    • What were their challenges?
    • How did they define them?
    • How did they over come them? Adapt? Change?
    • How did they define help? success?
  • What strategies and resources are still available to help them now?
did you know
  • In 2005
    • There were 69,141 African Americans in the state of Iowa (or 15,089 Families)
    • 58.2% increase since 1980
    • The median age of AA is 27.1 for Iowa 38.6
    • The median income for AA families is $29,668; for families in the state of Iowa it’s $54,971
    • 59.9% of AA who rent; for Iowa 26.9%
    • $62, 100 median value of homes owned by AA; $82,500 for the state of Iowa
    • AA men earned $22,047, AA women $15, 874; for the state of Iowa; men earned $31,389 and women $20,535
informants are people from whom you get information and gain understanding
Informants are people from whom you get information and gain understanding
  • Cultural Coaches: People who can share information that will help you to engage your client.
  • Cultural Counselors; People advise and assist you in your service strategy and service delivery.
  • Cultural Allies: People who are also invested in the health and well being of your client from an insiders perspective.
  • Cultural Translators: People who have expertise and specific insights in to a particular culture or sub-group. They have the skills and abilities to translate language, codes and behavior (both ways) and can articulate their underlying meaning
critical thinking procedure
Critical Thinking Procedure
  • What do I need to know, be aware of or sensitive to as I prepare to meet the client.
    • Who are the informants
    • What do they know I need to know
  • What do I need to learn from, listen to and watch for when I meet the client to understand;
    • How he copes and manages his life
    • His survival skills and strategies.
    • He way of life, norms, adapted behaviors, cultural codes
  • What do I need to remember to do when working with this person?

“The road to cultural competence begins with an understanding of your own personal and professional cultural awareness”

Domic Lum, 2003(p. 75).

conceptual framework of oppressed people martin thomas 1988
Conceptual Framework Of Oppressed PeopleMartin-Thomas,1988
  • External Locus of Control
  • Crisis Centered Lifestyle
  • Conflict Fatigue- PTSD
  • Cultural Paranoia
  • Adapted Behaviors/Compromised Values or
  • Repercussions for being culturally different

Defining White Privilege

  • Unearned power conferred systematically, or benefits bestowed prenatally on the basis of biological traits. (McIntosh, Peggy)
  • Choices, entitlements, advantages, benefits, assumptions and expectations granted based on membership in the culturally dominant group; includes the privileges granted by society, as well as the assumptions and expectations internalized by members of the dominant identity. (Olsson, Joan)
  • …a transparent preference for whiteness that saturates our society. (Holladay, Jennifer)
culture based conceptual shift in thinking worldview
Culture Based Conceptual Shift in Thinking: Worldview
  • People who have to negotiate hostile environments define the behavior, motives and actions of their oppressor different than the oppressor.
  • Solutions offered by the oppressor are viewed as lose-lose propositions, intended to keep them in an oppressed state.
  • Victimized is not the same as victim-hood
  • Disenfranchised people are constitutionally liable to resist the normalizing rules of their oppressor. They consciously will not participate in their own oppression.
  • Resistance is power
defining strong families
Defining Strong Families
  • Strong Families have a “set of relationships and processes that support and protect families and family members, especially during times of adversity and change”.
  • Family strengths help to maintain family cohesion while also supporting the development and well-being of individual family members.(Kids Count, 2002)
strong families
Strong Families
  • A core belief of Family Centered Practice is that “all families have strengths.” Allen,1990
  • Children do better when their families do better. O’Hare,2002
  • The success of our efforts to help families in crisis depends on our ability to match intervention plans with families' strengths and preferences.Van den Berg, 1997
factors that effect a family s ability to function at an optimal level
Factors that effect a family’s ability to function at an optimal level…
  • Risk Factors
    • Those life elements the put the safety, permanence or well-being of a child and their family in danger.
  • Protective Factors
    • life events, experiences, or individuals that can reduce, moderate or eliminate the effect of exposure to risk factors.
  • Recovery Factors
    • Those supportive elements that work in concert with protective factors to restore or enable families to function at their optimal level
examples of risk protective recovery factors
Examples of Risk, Protective, Recovery Factors
  • Risk Factors: poverty, crime, violence, addictions, domestic violence, disrupted families.
  • Protective Factors: employment, education, reunified family, spirituality, AA, NA.
  • Recovery Factors: family counseling, supportive services, financial assistance, skills training
protective factors and risk factors
Protective Factors and Risk Factors
  • Protective Factors: Enables families to thrive in spite of socio-economic or ecological circumstances.
    • Produces family hardiness and resiliency.
  • Risk Factors: Puts families in danger of failure and social pathologies.
    • Pejoratives across generations.
  • Protective Factors: Can eliminate or balance-out the effects of risk factors. (McCubbin,, 1997)
protective factors and behavior mislabeled
Protective Factors and Behavior Mislabeled
  • Greater emphasis placed on communicating feelings rather than thought. Not safe (disempowering) to allow people to know your thoughts
    • Mis-labeled as an inability to express abstract thinking
  • Social savvy preferable to book smarts, i.e.: the educated fool, has a lot of useless information.
    • Mis-labeled as not interested in school or learning
  • Mean pose in children (an aggressive glare, a warning)
    • Self protecting stare intended to communicate the person is not an easy victim or not open to being approached for social interaction
    • Mis-labeled as disrespectful and threatening
culture and counseling social and personal ecology variables
Social Ecology:

Non-Group Specific

Economic Conditions

System of Government

Geographic Region Societal Norms

Institutional Values of Origin

History of Group in Current Country

Personal Ecology






Peer group

Range of experience

*Culture and Counseling Social and Personal Ecology Variables

Counselor Variables

Culture same as Client

General Counseling Competency

Multicultural Counseling Competency

Social Ecology:

Group Specific





Culture of Origin


Sexual Preference

* Dr. H.C.Coleman, 1999, U of WI

five elements of the culturally competent system of care

Five Elements of The Culturally Competent System Of Care

Valuing Diversity

Cultural Self Assessment

Dynamics of Difference

Institutionalization of Cultural Knowledge

Adaptation to Diversity

children experience loss and grief
Children Experience Loss and Grief

Dr. Darla Henry of Family Resource Services in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

research reveals

  • children who have removed from their families and placed in several alternative placements have experienced profound loss and grief.
  • Their loss and grief behaviors are often either pathologized or punished
the green help seeking behavior model j w green 1995
The Green Help-Seeking Behavior ModelJ.W. Green, 1995
  • The individual’s definition and understanding of an experience as a problem.
    • How and what is defined as a problem.
  • The client’s semantic evaluation of a problem
    • How they describe the impact of the problem on their quality of life and or daily functioning.
  • Indigenous strategies of problem intervention
    • What are socially appropriate processes.
  • Culturally-based criteria of problem resolution
    • What are acceptable solutions.