Seven Important Facts CASA/GAL Volunteers Need to Know When Advocating for Children of Color

National CASA is particularly proud that as an organization we do more than respect diversity; we celebrate it. A healthy identity helps make positive outcomes possible for children even amidst the adversity and uncertainty of the court and child welfare systems.

Below are seven selected facts that illustrate why National CASA is clearly focused on achieving diversity and culturally competent child advocacy, and why this commitment is so critical to nearly half of the children our CASA and GAL volunteers serve.

  1. Though African American children make up 14% of the child population, they constitute 28% of the children in foster care. American Indian children make up 1% of the child population and 2% of the foster care population. Children with more than one race make up 6% of the child population and 7% of the foster care population. This imbalance is referred to as disproportionality.[i]
  2. Race has been identified as a primary determinant for decision making in five out of six stages in child protective services: reporting, investigation, substantiation, placement and exit from care.[ii]
  3. Research revealed that with all factors the same, African American and Hispanic Latino children are placed in foster care at a higher rate than whites. Poverty is a factor, however, research also reveals there are deeply-embedded stereotypes about Black family dysfunction.Instead of being referred to foster care, 72% of Caucasian children receive services in their own homes. Just 40% of Hispanic children and 44% of African-American children receive in-home services in lieu of removal.[iii]
  4. Although the length of time in foster care for African American children has declined considerably from FY 2000 to FY 2012 (40.6 months to 29.0 months) the average length of stay in foster care is still higher than that percentage for white children (18.3 months).[iv]
  5. Children of color experience less placement stability and achieve permanency less often or not as quickly. They are more likely to be moved from one placement to another, less likely to be reunified with their parents, and wait longer to be adopted.[v]
  6. The National Incidence Study, the NIS–4 (2005–06), found race differences in maltreatment rates, with African American children experiencing maltreatment at higher rates than white children. Maltreatment rates have likely never been comparable for African American and white children due to the gap between African American and white children in economic well-being. Income, or socioeconomic status, is the strongest predictor of maltreatment rates and incomes of African American families have not kept pace with the incomes of white families.These findings imply that nearly all the multi-factor findings on the interaction of race and social economic status arise not because Black children in not-low SES households are at greater risk for maltreatment because they are Black; they are at greater risk because they are poorer than the White children in similar households.[vi]
  7. From FY 2003 to FY 2012, the percentages of White children, Black children, and children of unknown or unable to be determined race who exited foster care decreased, while the percentages of Hispanic children and children of other races or multiracial children increased. Native American children, like other groups, have experienced some reductions in average length of stay, but their overall rates in foster care dropped little between 2002 and 2012, from 14.1 to 13.0 per 1,000.[vii]

[i] US Census, 2011; Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting (AFCARS) 2011

[ii] R.B. Hill, Synthesis of Research on Disproportionality in Child Welfare: An Update and National Study of Protective, Preventive and Reunification Services Delivered to Youth and Their Families

[iii] Child Welfare Information Gateway, National Study of Protective, Preventive and Reunification Services Delivered to Youth and Their Families

[iv] Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting (AFCARS) 2013 Data Brief

[v]US Department of Health and Human Services; Child Welfare Information Gateway)

[vi] National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4), 2004-2009

[vii] Child Welfare Information Gateway, November, 2013


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