Have a Heart for Kids Day rally, 2015

Making Child Welfare Work for All Kids

Kids of color, particularly African American, Native American and Latino children are more likely to enter into the child welfare system, and once there, they stay in the system longer than white kids. This information is not a surprise to child advocates or communities of color, but it has now been verified by a report issued by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy for the statewide Racial Disproportionality Advisory Committee.

The report found that African American, Native American and Latino children are impacted disproportionately at each decision point as they move through the child welfare system. This finding held true even when researchers compared the experiences of white children and children of color who come from families with similar economic status and family structures.

In 2007, the Children's Alliance and other partners successfully lobbied the legislature to pass Substitute House Bill 1472. The legislation created the Disproportionality Advisory Committee and tasked the members to determine to what degree disproportionality exists in Washington's child welfare system, and to come up with a plan to reduce disproportionality.

In a press release on 6/26/08 the Children's Alliance Executive Director Paola Maranan, who serves on the Committee, said the results of the new report are not surprising, but that it provides critical data that can be used to fuel changes in policy and practice that will make the system work for all kids.

"We have hard work ahead of us to hone in on the strategies, the programs and the actions needed to fix the child welfare system in this state—particularly as it affects children of color. The Children’s Alliance firmly believes that if we can fix the child welfare system for children of color we’ll go a long ways towards fixing the system for all children."

Articles or editorials in the Seattle P-I, the Bellingham Herald, the Seattle Times and other media have covered the findings in the report. The committee’s recommendations to the legislature to address the inequalities the report identified will be out soon.