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Are Child Welfare Case Outcomes Black and White?

Title: Are Child Welfare Case Outcomes Black and White? Responding to Race Disparities Perceived by Permanency Professionals and Caregivers of Black Children


When children are removed from their homes because of neglect or abuse, the goal of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is to return them to a loving, safe, stable, and permanent home as soon as possible. Ideally, children are reunified with their parents, but when this cannot be done safely, the alternatives are often adoption or guardianship. Unfortunately, the most recent statistics show that 48.1% of children and youth who entered substitute care in Illinois in 2019 were not placed in a permanent home within three years. The difficulty of placing children in permanent homes is worse for Black children in substitute care. More White children entering substitute care in Illinois in 2019 reached a permanent home within three years (56.6%) than Black children (45.7%).

This webinar shares findings from a recent study that used both interviews and surveys to capture the perceptions of caregivers of Black children and permanency professionals on the role of race in permanency practices. Participants shared how factors like inequitable treatment, implicit bias, deficiencies in cultural competency, and structural racism impact permanency for Black youth in Illinois. Furthermore, Black caseworkers and supervisors were significantly more likely than White caseworkers and supervisors to report that they perceived racial disparities, reinforcing the importance of engaging Black child welfare workers' perspectives in identifying and addressing racial inequities for Black children in child welfare. 

It will take concerted efforts and cultural changes to reduce racial disparities for Black children in Illinois. We will discuss steps the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services are taking to change both practice and culture to better serve Black children in care and their families. This includes a new initiative to increase guardianship across the state and important legislation changes promoting guardianship as a permanent family arrangement. The Department is also working to mitigate implicit biases and build cultural competency and humility into the agency’s culture. Participants will be invited to share their observations of the role of race in permanency in their jurisdiction and any efforts they are part of that are aimed at reducing racial inequities in permanency.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Attendees will be able to identify what caseworkers and supervisors perceive as the most common differences between Black and White children and families in permanency planning, use of guardianship and adoption, and child well system supports.

  2. Attendees will understand why it is important to explore the differences in perception between Black and White permanency professionals and caregivers, especially regarding issues of race.

  3. Attendees will be able to describe the efforts one state is making to reduce racial disparities throughout their child welfare system.

Free Registration for Members and Non-members

1 CE Credit (Social Work & Psychology): $30.00

1 CE Credit (Social Work & Psychology) for APSAC Members: $20.00

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