Race and Child Welfare

Chapin Hall Issue Brief, June 2011

Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 11-27

6 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2011 Last revised: 13 Dec 2011

See all articles by Elizabeth Bartholet

Elizabeth Bartholet

Harvard Law School

Fred Wulczyn

Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

Richard P. Barth

School of Social Work, University of Maryland

Cindy Lederman

11th Judicial Circuit Court, Juvenile Division, Miami, FL

Date Written: July 19, 2011

Abstract

This paper, published online by the Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago in June 2011, summarizes what the authors believe can be learned from the evidence presented at a conference co-sponsored by Harvard Law School’s Child Advocacy Program and Chapin Hall on what has generally been termed racial disproportionality in child welfare. The conference was designed to present some of the best available evidence analyzing the high representation of black children in foster care, and exploring policy implications. Some evidence had suggested that black/white maltreatment rates were similar, leading many to conclude that child welfare system bias was responsible. However the evidence presented helped demonstrate that overall, higher rates of black contact with child welfare reflect differences in the underlying incidence of actual maltreatment. The authors conclude that the child welfare field should move on from the focus on bias to pay more attention to the problems facing black families, and the related risks to black children victimized by maltreatment and in need of protection and services.

Keywords: foster care, child welfare, racial disproportionality

Suggested Citation

Bartholet, Elizabeth and Wulczyn, Fred and Barth, Richard P. and Lederman, Cindy, Race and Child Welfare (July 19, 2011). Chapin Hall Issue Brief, June 2011, Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 11-27, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1889239

Elizabeth Bartholet (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

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Fred Wulczyn

Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago ( email )

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Richard P. Barth

School of Social Work, University of Maryland ( email )

525 West Redwood Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
United States

Cindy Lederman

11th Judicial Circuit Court, Juvenile Division, Miami, FL ( email )

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