REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

A number of factors potentially contribute to the disproportionate representation ofAfrican American children in the foster care system, including disproportionate poverty among African Americans; vulnerable single-parent households; greater visibility to authorities responsible for child maltreatment reporting; and racism and bias in reporting, in addition to welfare policies, lack of resources, community of residence, increasing substance abuse, and lack of community- based treatment (Bass, Shields, & Behrman, 2004; Chipungu & Bent-Goodley, 2004; Green, 2002; Hill, 1997).

According to the 2007-2011 U.S. Census (2013), 14.3% (42.7 million) of the total U.S. population live below the poverty level. By race, the highest national poverty rates were found among Indians and Native Alaskans (27%) and African Americans (25.8%). Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders had a national poverty rate of 17.6%. Among Latinos, the range was a low of 16.2% for Cubans to a high of 26.3% for Dominicans. The Asian population poverty rate was highest for Vietnamese at 14.7% and Koreans at 15.0% and lowest for Filipinos at 5.8%. According to Pelton (1989), there is a strong relationship among child abuse, neglect, and poverty. It is a well-established fact that most of the children in foster care come from single-parent households (Lindsey, 1991; McRoy, 2011). Moreover, poverty rates are highest for families headed by single women. For example, in 2010, 49.7% of black children lived with their mothers only (compared to 18.3% of white children) (Children's Defense Fund, 2011). Therefore, it is no surprise that these families would be more vulnerable. Single mothers rarely receive child support, and low wages make it very difficult to afford good child care.

Further, Courtney (1998, p. 95) has reported that “the incidence of abuse and neglect is approximately 22 times higher among families with incomes less than $15,000 per year than among families with incomes of more than $30,000 per year.” Note also that physicians and other service providers may be more likely to attribute an injury to abuse in cases of children from low-income homes; in families of higher income, they might attribute the same injury to an accident (Newberger, Reed, Daniel, Hyde, & Kotelchuck, 1977; O'Toole, Turbett, &

Nalpeka, 1983). These differential attributions and labeling biases against low- income families may account for some of the relationships that have been found between poverty and abuse.

McRoy (2014) and others (Hill, 1997), acknowledging that African American children are much more likely to be poor than white children, suggest that growing depression and substance abuse of impoverished parents can also lead to neglect. In fact, according to the Child Welfare League ofAmerica (1997), in 1995 about one million children were found to be substantiated victims of child abuse and neglect and at least 50% had chemically involved caregivers. Parental substance abuse is one of the leading contributors to children being removed from their home and placed in care.

Parental incarceration is another factor leading more children into the child welfare system. Drug abuse and alcohol abuse are clear factors contributing to the incarceration of 80% of the 1.7 million men and women in prison today. In 2008, 1.7 million children had at least one parent in prison and 45% of these children were African American (U.S. Department ofJustice, 2008).

 
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