Session: Exploring the Complexity of Racial Disparities in Child Welfare Services and Outcomes (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

160 Exploring the Complexity of Racial Disparities in Child Welfare Services and Outcomes

Friday, January 17, 2020: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Marquis BR Salon 10, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Child Welfare (CW)
Symposium Organizer:
Jangmin Kim, PhD, Texas State University
Marian Harris, PhD, University of Washington Tacoma
Racial disparities remain prevalent in child welfare systems. Ongoing research is needed to fully understand where racial disparities exist, why they occur, and how they affect children and families of color. Multidimensional factors across individual, agency, and system levels may influence the nature and magnitude of racial disparities. The effects of racial disparities also vary across various decision points, services, and outcomes in child welfare. Furthermore, the causes and effects of racial disparities may differ within and between racial groups and become more complex through interactions with other inequalities, such as poverty. This symposium is linked to the overarching theme for the current SSWR conference by exploring the complexity of racial disparities throughout various points in child welfare cases, including alternative response to reports of child neglect, placement decisions, case planning, and permanency outcomes.

The first paper examined the association between neglect allegations and Alternative Response (AR); the moderation effects of race, poverty, and their combination on the association. Logistic regression models and interaction probing techniques analyzed Texas child maltreatment reports in the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. Neglect allegation, racial minority, and receipt of public assistance decreased the likelihood of AR assignment. Further, receiving public assistance strengthened a negative association between neglect and AR for racial minority children, but not for white children.

The second paper conducted a within-group examination of Black infants (N= 153,939) who received a maltreatment investigation. Data were analyzed to examine health-related risks and case outcomes were compared by age subgroup (0 vs 1). Findings indicate that the youngest infants differed significantly from older infants with respect to key case characteristics, health risks, and placement experiences. Findings point to the need for further attention to the heterogeneity among Black children in child welfare systems, including potential influences related to distinct developmental stages.

The third paper analyzed 736 child welfare cases to examine the role of child-caseworker racial matching in the Family Team Conference (FTC) for developing case plans through family-centered, collaborative approaches. The study found significant differences in some fidelity indicators of FTC between racial and non-racial matching groups. Although high fidelity increased child well-being, racial matching was neither a significant factor nor a moderator. Instead, caseworkers' team facilitation skills strengthened the positive relationship between the model fidelity and child well-being.

The fourth paper used data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System to analyze N=97,000 cases of children ages zero-to-five who reunified with a biological parent. Children and families were tracked for 2 years to compare family- and state system-characteristics associated with those who successfully and unsuccessfully reunified. Findings suggest that the relationship between race and ethnicity and successful reunification varies significantly by state systems, especially for Black and Latino families.

Together, the papers will help participants better understand the depth and complexity of racial disparities in child welfare systems. They will also identify targeted strategies to address racial disparities at specific decision points in child welfare processes. A discussant will summarize major findings and discuss future research directions.

* noted as presenting author
Child Welfare Experiences of Black Infants
Reiko Boyd, PhD, University of Houston
Model Fidelity and Child Well-Being in Family Team Conference: The Moderation Effect of Racial Matching
Jangmin Kim, PhD, Texas State University; Barbara Pierce, PhD, Indiana University - Purdue University, Indianapolis
The Road to Reunification: Family and Agency Factors Associated with Post-Reunification Success
Catherine LaBrenz, MSW, University of Texas at Austin; Rowena Fong, EdD, University of Texas at Austin
See more of: Symposia