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Black Children in Texas’ Foster Care Fare Worse than Others, Study Says,,Date: Tuesday, January 17, 2006,By: Michael H. Cottman ,,Black social workers said last week that a new study about black children and foster care is troubling and raises seriou
Black Children in Texas’ Foster Care Fare Worse than Others, Study Says
Date: Tuesday, January 17, 2006
By: Michael H. Cottman
Black social workers said last week that a new study about black
children and foster care is troubling and raises serious questions
about the government’s commitment to caring for low-income families.
The study by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which
oversees the Department of Family and Protective
Services, said black children stay in foster care significantly longer,
are less likely to be reunited with their families and wait longer for
adoption than white or Hispanic children.
"There are no children of the affluent in foster care. There are very,
very few children from middle class families in foster care," Toni
Oliver, executive director of Roots Adoption Agency in Atlanta, told
BlackAmericaWeb. com. "Over 98 percent of the children in foster
care are children from poor families. And it is evident that our
government does not care about poor people, evidenced by the huge,
recent consensus on the federal budget cut."
Black families were no more likely than white families to have a child
removed from the home, when researchers accounted for
factors such as household income, the age of the victim and the source
of the allegation, according to the study. But because black
children exit the system more slowly, they make up a disproportionately
large percentage of the foster care population.
Joyce James, the top administrator for the Texas child protective
services, which runs the foster care system, said she'd like to see
more research on the reasons for the differences.
"We'd certainly like to look at are we as an agency sensitive to the
different ethnicities of people that we work with and do we need
additional training to ensure we are responding adequately to the
families," she said.
Oliver, who is also a member of the National Association of Black Social
Workers, said child welfare services stay in business
because children stay in foster care for long periods of time.
"On the up side," Oliver said, "any efforts initiated to address the
conditions of poverty will, or at least should have positive outcomes
at reducing the entry rate of black children into foster care."
The findings in the study mirror national statistics. The Texas
Legislature requested the study and ordered an overhaul of CPS last
spring after several high-profile child homicides involving families
where caseworkers investigated parents but left the children in
The researchers found poverty was significant, with more than 60 percent
of all child removals in Texas involving families making
about $10,000 or less a year.
The findings also revealed:
Among families investigated for child maltreatment, poverty is a strong
predictor of whether a child is removed from the home. More
than 60 percent of child removals in Texas involve families with annual
incomes of about $10,000 or less. This is a factor in
disproportionality because poverty rates are higher among
African-American families are less likely than white families to receive
in-home family services to help prevent child removal in three
areas of the state, while Hispanic families are less likely than white
families to receive such services in four areas.
"The reasons for disproportionality are multifaceted and complex," the
study said. "Some experts believe that poverty is the primary
source of disparity in child protective services. These researchers say
that African-American, Hispanic, and Native-American
families have a greater risk for involvement in the child welfare system
because they tend to have lower incomes than Anglo
Dr. Gloria Batiste-Roberts, a NABSW member, told BlackAmericaWeb. com
that black social service professionals are monitoring
the Texas foster care system and are working closely with state
officials to find solutions to problems outlined in the study.
"NABSW has a long history of promoting the preservation of families of
African ancestry," said Batiste-Roberts, who is based in
Houston. "We believe that children must be kept safe and protected. In
addition, we support the rights of families to raise their
Scott McCown, a former judge, said the state could solve the problems
identified in the study by tackling poverty before it leads to
"When you have programs that are designed to reach at-risk kids, you're
already working at the edge of the waterfall," said McCown,
who now leads a policy center that advocates more social-program
spending. "You want to be working way upstream to divert kids
from ever landing in the river to begin with."
The report called for better recruitment of foster and adoptive parents
and collaboration with organizations that provide job training,
GED classes and grants for higher education.
Batiste-Roberts said a number of black social workers in Houston are
also employed with The Texas Department of Family and
"It is our belief," she said, "that until the inequity and
discriminatory treatment of people of African ancestry is resolved, then
system will continue to treat our children and families disparately.
NABSW is committed to ensuring the well being of our children and