The problem of disproportionate representation of minority youth in systems care has been examined not as an aberration of the system but as an artifact of it (Crofoot & Harris, 2013). McLean (2013) found that African American youth who are placed in out of home care have longer stays and worse outcomes than Caucasian youth who are placed in out of home care. Cultural Brokers is an innovative program in Fresno County that intervenes during Child Protective Service (CPS) investigations to prevent out of home placement for African American youth. The Broker works with CPS and families to find alternatives to foster care placements.
This program evaluation for Cultural Brokers seeks to answer the following research questions: Is Cultural Brokers effective at reducing out of home placement for African American youth in Fresno County? Has Cultural Brokers helped to decrease the disproportional representation of African American youth in out of home placement in the foster care system in Fresno County? Data collected by the Cultural Brokers program over the past 10 years are analyzed with county level data to determine if levels of disproportionality decreased with participation in Cultural Brokers programming. Analysis is conducted using ANOVA to test for difference in the Cultural Brokers group and the non-Cultural Brokers group. Regression analysis was done to test differences in disproportionality over the time period. Additionally, individual interviews were conducted with Cultural Broker staff and with CPS staff to understand how a Broker is chosen, the role of the broker, and influence a broker has in case decisions.
Results from this study focus on the outcomes of African American youth and families with CPS investigations in Fresno County. Outcomes for youth who had Cultural Broker involvement are compared to results with African American youth who did not have Cultural Broker involvement. Results show that African American families with Cultural Broker involvement are less likely to have an outcome of out of home placement. Further testing is examining the strength of the impact over time to see if Cultural Broker involvement led to long term resistance to out of home placement or if it only delayed future foster care involvement. Additional testing includes examining the link with kinship placement.
Implications for this study include a focus on innovative practices to reduce disproportionality in the foster care system. The problem of disproportionate representation of minority groups in foster care has been decades-long. Practices like Cultural Brokers offer a new way to examine the problem. Implications include ways to implement practices with other groups impacted disproportionately including Latinx and Indigenous groups.