Academic journal article Child Welfare

Comparative Analysis of Two Community-Based Efforts Designed to Impact Disproportionality

Academic journal article Child Welfare

Comparative Analysis of Two Community-Based Efforts Designed to Impact Disproportionality

Article excerpt

Children of color are overrepresented in child welfare in Iowa at a rate double their percentage of the population. In 2005 the Iowa Department of Human Services implemented two pilot demonstration projects to address overrepresentation of Native American and African American children in the child welfare system. The projects, called the Minority Youth and Families Initiative (MYFI), included ongoing evaluation. Results obtained over two years indicate improved worker and participant alliance, family functioning, and outcomes for children. Findings are discussed and recommendations are provided for further improvements in practice, research, and evaluation to reduce racial disparities the child welfare system.

Iowa reflects the national trend where children of color represent 59% of the foster care population compared to 39% of the general population (National Data Analysis System, 2005), although data suggest they are not at greater risk for abuse or neglect (Sedlak & Broadhurst, 1996). Once in contact with the child welfare system, we also know that children of color experience a higher number of placements and are less likely to be reunified with their birth parents (Hill, 2006).

Children of color are overrepresented in child welfare in Iowa at a rate double their percentage of the population (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2003). Many children involved in the child welfare system also fall into the disparity in other systems (e.g., minority youth make up 12% of Iowa's youth population and are one-third of those held in confinement; cf. Tuell, 2003; Wiig & Tuell, 2005; Wiig, Widom, & Tuell, 2003).

Interventions

To address the issue of overrepresentation, the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) (Concannon, 2003) developed the Minority Youth and Families Initiative (MYFI) (Richardson, 2005). Two separate MYFI projects were implemented in two counties: Woodbury (Sioux City) and Polk (Des Moines) (Richardson, 2005). In Woodbury County, a Specialized Native American Program (Unit) was established within DHS. Its focus was on community outreach, prevention, and intervention with Native American children and families at risk of involvement or referral to the child welfare system.

The Woodbury County intervention was especially concerned with improving cultural competence in the delivery of services, increased attention to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) principles, reducing caseloads, increasing available Native American foster homes and placing greater emphasis on relatives and cornmunity networks (informal supports). Unit workers received training and developed capacity to assist families in crisis and those at risk through a more culturally competent strengths-based approach promoting and building on resiliency within families and utilizing the family team meeting (FTM). Unit workers were also aided by tribal liaisons employed by DHS to empower Native American families and mitigate involvement with DHS or the court systems. Some of the risk factors workers targeted included family management, substance abuse, education, poverty, and lack of social supports.

In Polk County, a local provider served under contract with DHS to implement a community-based project focusing on the needs of African American families who came to the attention of the child welfare system. Families were referred by DHS to the local provider where comprehensive care plans were developed and follow-up was provided (Richardson & Graf, 2006).

The MYFI demonstration project in Polk County aimed to provide more culturally competent and intensive family intervention in coordination with the DHS case managers. Primary issues targeted included family management needs, substance abuse, education, family poverty, informal supports, and community connections (informal supports) (Richardson & Graf, 2006).

Method

Scope and Time Frame

The first phase (Year 1) of the research was based on data collected during winter and spring 2004-2005 utilizing the North Carolina Family Assessment System (NCFAS), the Colorado Family Risk Assessment (CFRA), and Colorado Family Risk Reassessment (CFRR). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.