DFPS has released the Disproportionality Report for Fiscal Year 2020. The report provides an in-depth analysis on the existing racial disparities across different stages of the child protection system. The report also outlines regional trends based on previous reporting years along with cross-agency and community efforts to improve reunification outcomes.
Continue reading for some of the key takeaways from the report, and recommendations for how we can all work for a more equitable system.
Reporting & Investigations
African American children continue to make up a larger proportion of children being reported by the community and experiencing DFPS involvement.
In Texas, Hispanic families make up the largest percent of children in poverty, often labeled as a risk factor for abuse or neglect. However, Hispanic children are reported and investigated at a slightly lower rate, even though they make up a larger part of the state’s child population.
There is notable concern around the increased reporting rate for children of all races/ethnicities within the past five years. African American children have experienced an exceptionally increased rate of reporting between FY19 and FY20 as seen in the green line and chart below. The cause of this is unknown.
Despite the increased rates of reporting, the overall rate of all children being investigated and removed has decreased in the past three years.
Child Placement & Comparisons
The child placement and outcomes data follow similar trends to other categories. African American children had lower reunification rates compared to other groups of children, even though they had lower utilization of Alternative Response, an intervention often used when there are less immediate safety concerns or risks to the child. Hispanic and Anglo children had identical rates of reunification and kinship custody between 29 and 34 percent.
Conclusion & Recommendations
While further analysis is needed in order to understand all of the factors influencing family outcomes, including better data collection on poverty trends, CASA and the greater child welfare system should:
- Engage with youth and families with lived experience and previous involvement in the child protection system to develop culturally appropriate services and supports.
- Continue prioritizing reunification when it is safe and possible.
The data is clear: CPS is more likely to receive reports regarding African American families than Anglo families and is more likely to remove these children from their homes than Asian, Anglo or Hispanic children. African American children also face worse outcomes in the foster care system—the system is less likely to reunify them with their families of origin, and they are less likely to be adopted within 12 months.
We can’t solve the disproportionality and disparity issues in the foster care system overnight, but we all have a responsibility to understand and attempt to address them. Check out these resources for a great way to get started:
- Podcast: CASA on the Go – Understanding and Undoing Disproportionality with Tanya Rollins, Part 1 and Part 2
- Video: The Trauma of Family Separation – Dr. Jessica Pryce for our 2020 Distinguished Speaker Series
We can also recommit to culturally responsive CASA outreach, training and recruitment. For these children, a CASA volunteer who is able to relate to their experiences, or at the very least, is comfortable discussing their experiences without bias, can make all the difference.
You can view the full report for region-specific data and other recommendations.