Posted Monday, August 31, 2020 by Rich Bowlen

Understanding and Addressing Racial Bias and Equity in Child Welfare [Resources]

How are caseworkers and social workers experiencing and working to better understand racial bias and disparities in child welfare? What are families and recipients of services saying? How can we all support critical services such as child protection while sharing in the effort to shape healthier communities? Now is the time to seek a deeper knowledge of what is and has been happening and why. We’ve been compiling research and resources to gain a shared understanding to work from.

Full summary:

“Those of us who were drawn to the child welfare system to protect children need to set aside our intentions and beliefs and look fully at the impact of racism on the children and families that we are serving. … If our intent is truly to serve and protect children, then we must unflinchingly examine the harm that the system causes and change it.”

– Cathy Krebs, director of the American Bar Association’s Children’s Rights Litigation Committee in The Imprint’s “It's Not Enough to Mean Well

Like many others in child welfare (and across the entire human services spectrum), I’ve been dedicating a lot of time lately toward reading, researching, and having conversations with colleagues about racial bias and disproportionality in the system.

There’s no denying that a problem exists and now is the time for change. As a result, many technology providers, industry leaders, policymakers, and decision-makers are inclined to jump straight into action. However, I firmly believe we need to fully understand and appreciate what is and has been happening and why before we can try to apply new technology, processes, or policy to solve it.

Now is the time for all of us to simply listen. How are caseworkers and social workers experiencing and explaining these disparities? What are families and recipients of services saying? What about former staff who have left the field out of a desire to not contribute to the harm it is causing?

This isn’t a policy thing. This isn’t a procedure thing. It’s a people thing.

To that end, we’ve been compiling some resources to educate ourselves and our teams. We’re sharing a few here for anyone looking to do the same in hopes that together, we can shape healthier, more equitable communities. (PS: I am always looking to learn and experience more. If you have additional resources, I’d enjoy receiving your recommendations.)