Abstract: "What Are You Willing to Risk for Racial Equity?" Implications of Racial Equity Workshops to Better Serve Families in Child Welfare (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

"What Are You Willing to Risk for Racial Equity?" Implications of Racial Equity Workshops to Better Serve Families in Child Welfare

Sunday, January 15, 2023
North Mountain, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Pegah Naemi Jimenez, PhD, Associate Researcher, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Kelechi Wright, MEd, Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Becci A. Akin, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Sarah McCall, BA, Research Project Specialist, University of Kansas, KS
Shanelle Dupree, JD, Kansas City Regional Director, Kansas Department for Children and Family Services, Kansas City, KS
Brandi Turner, BA, Department, Department for Children and Families, KS
Ashley Smith, Child and Family Advocate, CarePortal, Kansas City, MO
Abby Fry, Regional Manager, CarePortal, Kansas City, MO
Background/Purpose: Racial disparities and disproportionalities in child welfare (CW) have been a long-documented problem. Present movements have challenged providers to reimage how to serve and support families. However, few anti-racist workshops have engaged the CW workforce and mandated reporters to build shared, multi-disciplinary knowledge and accountability in achieving racial equity. A collaborative advisory group organized statewide virtual anti-racist workshops designed to impart knowledge, awareness, and discuss concrete ways to advance racial equity in CW. This study sought to examine professionals’ knowledge change and attitudes about structural racism, the impact of the workshops, their individual level, and organizational level of engagement in racial equity activities.

Method: This study used a mixed method approach to examine the impact of four virtual workshops. Following each workshop, participants completed a survey via REDcap to evaluate the workshops. A total of 519 participants across all four workshops responded to 21 statements and six open-ended questions about participants’ knowledge change, impact of the workshops, and self-perception and organizational behaviors towards anti-racist work. Paired sample t-tests were conducted to examine knowledge change before and after workshops. Thematic analysis (Attride-Stirling, 2001) was used to identify codes, categories and themes across the open-ended questions in Dedoose. To address rigor and trustworthiness coders conducted peer debriefing for each workshop session.

Results: Across all workshops, quantitative results indicated significant participant knowledge change before the workshops vs after the workshops, ts>-20.77, ps<.001 (Mpre=4.74, SDpre=1.29; Mpost=5.90, SDpost=0.91). Half the participants (50.4%) said the workshops had a positive impact on their learning, and 60.1% indicated active participation sections allowed for deeper learning. Most participants (70.4%) said they were individually committed to advance racial equity in CW, but fewer indicated (20.6%) that their organizations were committed to racial equity activities. Qualitative analyses of the first workshop supported these results. Three main themes emerged: (1) New Knowledge: Participants indicated that historical content and data of past racial disparities and structural racism in CW was new knowledge; (2) Implementation of Racial Equity: Participants shared individual actions of implementing racial equity in CW, but at an organizational level didn’t know or said the organization was not engaged in implementing racial equity; (3) Positionality: Participants indicated they had more individual control in engaging in on-going racial equity work but were less enthusiastic that their organization were on the same future journey.

Conclusion/Implications: This study contributes to the literature by demonstrating that focused anti-racist workshops help generate new knowledge and ideas for participants to advance racial equity in their work. The virtual workshops achieved knowledge change and attitudes of structural racism in CW and had a positive impact on participants overall. Participants articulated ways they would individually stay committed to the process but indicated less confidence in their organizations’ engagement. Overall, this study shows that anti-racist workshops for the larger CW workforce is important for knowledge acquisition, personal reflection, and engagement about ways to advance racial equity it the CW system. Future research is needed to examine long-term impact and identify mechanisms for influencing organizational engagement in racial equity work.