The Community Dimension of State Child Protection

The other day I had a conversation with a civil liberties lawyer about racial inequities in the child welfare system, the institution charged with protecting children from abuse and neglect. America’s child welfare system is marked by pronounced and disturbing racial disparities. African American and Native American children are overrepresented in the national foster care population. That is, the percentage of the foster care population from these groups is greater than their representation in the general youth population. Black children, for example, make up more than a third of the nation’s foster care population, although they represent less than twenty percent of the nation’s children. Taken together, children of color comprise only about thirty percent of the general population, but about sixty percent of children in foster care.

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