Disproportionality: An Overview and Foster Care Statistics
The term disproportionality can be a foreign word to someone who is not in the human service field. Disproportionality is the over-representation of a particular group of people, who does not make up a large group in the total population. For example, if African Americans make up 13 percent of America's population, and they represent 75 percent of the foster care system then that is a disproportionate rate.
So what does this mean for practitioners? Are the systems put in place not culturally competence? Does this mean that minority parents are unable to take care of their offspring? What is really going on, and what can we do to solve this social problem? As a social worker, we have to utilize our skills to assess what we can do to bring about social change. We have to use the data to inform our practice. We can do the research, but we also need to figure out what the next step is. How can we make changes in efforts to provide culturally competence services for the clients we serve?
A lot of time we are passionate about certain issues affecting certain populations, and we come up with great solutions. The hardest part is being about to implement those changes to translate into effective practice. This is not about macro social worker vs clinical or direct service. The purpose of looking at the research is to look at the data , and work together to create solutions in order to implement change. Let's first look at the statistics.
In 2008, U.S. Census Bureau conducted an American Community Survey. This data shows that African Americans are over-represented in the foster care system.
During 2013, CWLA (Child Welfare League of America) looked at a snapshot of America's children. The number of children in America under 18 is 73, 586, 612. Of that makeup 52.2% were white children (not Hispanic) , and 47.8% non-white children. 32.8% were under 6, and 33.6 were between 6-11. Youth ages 12-17 represented 33.8%.
402,378 children were living in an out of home placement, 101,840 were waiting to be adopted, 677,997 cases were considered substantiated/indicated as abused or neglect.
When looking at all of this data, you have to also look at the overlaps of poverty and abuse/neglect. 16,086,960 children were living in poverty, and 30,674,476 hildren were living in low-income families.
In 2013, approximately 3.5 million allegations of child abuse and neglect, representing 6.4 million children made to CPS (Child Protective Services).
Now let's look at the racial background on a national level. Data was collected by AFCARS (Adoption & Foster Care Analysis & Reporting System) did a point in time study. On September 30, 2013 there were 402,378 children in foster. 42 percent were White, 24 were African-American, 22 were Hispanic, 9 percent were multiracial or other. According to their website other races or multiracial includes, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, and two or more race. 3 percent were unknown or unable to be determined.
In Virginia in 2013, there were 4,389 children in foster care. The statistics below were collected on the last day of the year in 2013.
Five Highest Cases of Foster Care in Virginia in 2013.
Norfolk - 250
Fairfax County- 249
Virginia Beach- 193
Roanoke City- 186
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