Topic: Reducing Racial Disparity and Disproportionality in Child Welfare: Programs

Scientific Ratings in this topic:

1 - Well-Supported by Research Evidence

2 - Supported by Research Evidence

3 - Promising Research Evidence

4 - Evidence Fails to Demonstrate Effect

5 - Concerning Practice

NR - Not able to be Rated

Learn more about the scale

Definition for Reducing Racial Disparity and Disproportionality in Child Welfare: Programs:

Reducing Racial Disparity and Disproportionality in Child Welfare: Programs are defined by the CEBC as interventions to address disparities in the child welfare services received by minorities and/or the disproportionate representation of ethnic minorities in the child welfare system. This topic area highlights programs that propose replicable strategies for reducing disparities and disproportionality. Qualifying programs work to reduce disparity and/or disproportionality at various stages in the child welfare system: screening for child abuse and neglect; investigation of allegations; service provision to families, children, and adolescents (Note: Many states offer an alternative response process where lower risk cases receive a more supportive, service-oriented, and strengths-focused approach, please click here for more information about these types of programs.); out-of-family placement in foster care; adoption; and reunification. It should be noted that there is some discussion in the child welfare field regarding whether the disproportionate entrance of ethnic minorities into the child welfare system is appropriate and reflects higher maltreatment rates in some minority communities, or whether the differences reflect biases within the child welfare system, or other societal factors such as poverty and income inequality. For more information on this topic, please see the Child Welfare Information Gateway's section on Disproportionality:

  • Target population: Ethnic minority children and families involved in the child welfare system
  • Services/types that fit: Services include those that may focus at the individual level and address specific family needs or focus at the system level through education of caseworkers and changes in child welfare policies and practices
  • Delivered by: Child welfare workers or trained professionals
  • In order to be included: Program must specifically target the reduction of disparities and/or disproportionality in the child welfare system either in general or for a specific case
  • In order to be rated: There must be research evidence (as specified by the Scientific Rating Scale) that demonstrates reduced race/ethnic disparities or disproportionality in at least one stage in the child welfare process (e.g., screening, investigation, services, etc.).

Programs in this Topic Area

The programs listed below have been reviewed by the CEBC and, if appropriate, been rated using the Scientific Rating Scale.

Four Programs with a Scientific Rating of 3 - Promising Research Evidence:

Nine Programs with a Scientific Rating of NR - Not able to be Rated:

Why was this topic chosen by the Advisory Committee?

The Reducing Racial Disparity and Disproportionality in Child Welfare: Programs topic area is relevant to child welfare because of the overrepresentation of minority groups in the child welfare system. While nationally the prevalence of this issue may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, the problem exists to some degree everywhere. Such a predicament has left child welfare administrators, program managers, and policy makers grappling with how best to implement strategies to significantly address the underlying issues and reduce this occurrence in their organizations. The importance of implementing and sharing successful strategies that counter racial bias and disparate treatment in our child welfare system is critical in assuring that all families are treated in a fair and equitable manner through each encounter point in the investigative and case management process. It is equally important that culturally appropriate interventions be identified, available, and offered to families of color that promote child safety, permanency, and family resiliency and well-being.

Marilynne Garrison
Community-Based Support Division
Los Angeles, CA

Topic Expert

Lonnie R. Snowden, PhD, Professor
Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, University of California
Berkeley, CA