Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Implicit Bias in Child Welfare

In the child welfare system there is an over-representation of minorities. We can look at the history of the United States to understand the racial tension. I was reading an article entitled "Implict Bias in the Child Welfare, Education and Mental Health System" by Michael Harris and Hannah Benton. Recently, I took the Harvard Implicit Bias test and I wasn't too surprise at my test, but I have not taken all of them. You can take the different tests at:

No matter if you are in the helping profession, it is good to be aware of bias because we all have them. The problem is when the implicit bias affects your work and decisions that  are being made about the lives of our children.

Key points in the article:

  • Black families are most severely over-represented about three times the rate of White families. 
  • Various decision makers determine the outcome of a child welfare proceeding; whether a case is referred, screened-in, investigated, and substantiated 
  • The research indicates the various points where decision makers could unconsciously rely on racial biases about minority families when reviewing the facts of a case and that will lead to subjective case review and evaluation. 
  • There is not any evidence to suggest that Black children were abused more severely than White children
  • Socioeconomic status may not be the determining factor in child welfare case outcomes but that race plays a significant role
  • A study showed Black children were twice as likely to be placed in foster care in counties where they were a small proportion of the total population when compared to counties where Black children are comprised the majority 
  • Further research is needed to determinate how to avoid racial bias impacting those discretionary decisions. 
Let's have a discussion on what can we do on each system level to eliminate these racial biases and disproportionality in child welfare?

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