To gain a more complete understanding of the causes of disproportionality of children of color in foster care, readers should consider the following (see Dougherty, 2003;

  • 1. Exploring whether factors such as bias and service obstacles could lead to both overrepresentation and underrepresentation of specific groups of children in the child welfare system
  • 2. Examining not just overrepresentation or underrepresentation of children in care, but assessing this disproportional representation at each decision point over time (Shaw et al., 2011).

As Anyon (2011, p. 242) observes, “at the national level, African American youth are overrepresented at every stage of the child welfare intervention process, and these disproportionalities grow as children move deeper into the system.” That is, not only do African American children experience disproportionately higher rates of maltreatment investigation and abuse and neglect substantiation

(Fluke et al., 1999), they are also more likely to be removed from their parents and placed in foster care, more likely to stay in foster care for longer periods of time, less likely to be either returned home or adopted, and more likely to be emancipated from the child welfare system. In addition, the instability in foster children's lives makes it difficult for them to become productive citizens as they mature. Educational delays and emotional stress are associated with both maltreatment and multiple placements. Finally, youth of color aging out of care are at high risk for depression, homelessness, and economic dependency.

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