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Over Representation of African American Children in the Child Welfare and Foster Care Systems

WHEREAS, child protective services agencies in every state are funded by the state and federal governments and have the responsibility for protecting children from abuse and neglect; and

WHEREAS, both state and federal laws outline the policies, procedures and practices of these agencies while the agencies may also develop internal operational procedures; and

WHEREAS, these agencies have the following options for responding to allegations of child abuse and neglect, family preservation services (in-home services), kinship care (relative placement), foster care (including residential care) and adoption; and

WHEREAS, there are presently about 600,000 children in out-of-home placements; and

WHEREAS, 48% of these children are in foster homes, 26% in relative homes, 17% in group homes and the balance in other types of homes; and

WHEREAS, according to the 2000 Census, 64% of the children in this country are white, 15% are African-American, 16% are Hispanic and 5% are Native American and other; and

WHEREAS, 42% of the children in the child welfare and foster care systems are African American, 36% are white, 15% are Hispanic and 7% are Native American and other; and

WHEREAS, research shows that given the same socio-economic conditions as white families, African-American children are at greater risk of entering the child welfare system; African-American families are reported to the child welfare system at a higher percentage; and more likely to have children removed from the home and placed in child welfare and foster care systems once they have been reported; and these children are more likely to stay in the foster care longer than white children and less likely to be adopted; and

WHEREAS, African American children represent 42% of the children in foster care system while only 5% of the child welfare administrators in key making positions are African Americans; and

WHEREAS, more than nine billion dollars in federal funding is spent in out-of-home care while approximately 992 million dollars is spent on prevention and intervention to maintain children in their homes or home of a relative; and

WHEREAS, studies have shown that children in the foster care system are more likely to have poor school performance, more often drop out to school, have untreated mental health issues, experience multiple school and home placements, are more likely to become incarcerated as juveniles and as adults and more likely to become domestic and child abuse offenders; and

WHEREAS, the over-representation of African American children in the foster care and child welfare systems may contribute to the break down of African American families; and

WHEREAS, there are child advocacy organizations in this country, most of which are non-profit, that works with families who have been accused of child abuse and neglect in an attempt to provide services to end the cycle of child maltreatment and organizations that advocate for the best interest of the child in the judicial system.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP expresses its concern about the over-representation of African-Americans in the child welfare and foster care systems and calls upon the Congressional Black Caucus and the Legislative Black Caucus in every state to review the over- representation issue and express similar concerns; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Washington Bureau of the NAACP and the Political Action Committee of the State Conferences review, monitor and offer amendments or raise objections to any federal and state legislation that may cause a disproportionate number of African American children to enter the foster care system and remain in the system for extended periods of time; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the State Conferences of the NAACP request that the state office of all child protective service agencies provide them with copies of any proposed changes in state agency policies which impact children in the child protective services system and give State Conferences an opportunity to comment on the proposed changes; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Legal Department of the NAACP partner with various organizations as black administrators in child welfare to research, review and study policies, practices and procedures of Child Protective Services Agencies to determine if these policies, practices and procedures have a discriminatory impact on African-American children and take whatever legal action may be deemed appropriate based on the investigation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Legal Department of the NAACP include as a training topic, the child welfare system and the over- representation of African American children in that system, on the 2004 Continuing Legal Education seminar agenda; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that State Conferences of the NAACP review, monitor and express concerns to the state children protective services agencies about the lack of African-American child welfare administrators; and

BE IT FINALLY BE RESOLVED, that the NAACP will urge all of its units to partner with local child advocacy organizations to recruit board members, staff and volunteers of color to work with families who have been accused of child maltreatment and advocate for and represent children of color in the child welfare and foster care systems.