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Texas CPS Finds African American Children Over-represented In System

Feb. 4, 2011

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African American children in Texas are referred to CPS more than others, are more likely to be reported as victims of child abuse or neglect, are more likely to be removed from their homes, and less likely to be returned to their families; they wait longer to be adopted than children of other races or they age out before being adopted and placed in a permanent home. Some pockets of over representation occur for American Indian and Hispanic children in certain counties in Texas as well.

CPS refers to the phenomenon of over representation of one race or cultural group versus another group in a system as disproportionality. For African American Children in CPS, it means that they make up a larger percentage of cases than their percentage in the general population.

In Texas African Americans make up 11.8 percent of the population, however the percentage of African American children in CPS nearly doubles for confirmed victims, and at some stages the percentage more than triples. 34.8 percent of children are awaiting adoption at the end of the year are African American-a difference of 23% compared to the percentage of African Americans in the general population.In McLennan county the numbers aren't as stark, but they follow a similar trend.

What do these numbers mean? Do African Americans make bad parents? CPS began looking at what's called disparities in the system--the inequitable or different treatment or services provided to one group as compared to another group.

Disproportionality my be systemic of a larger social problem. Poverty plays a critical factor in whether or not a child is removed from a home. More than 6 out of 10 Texas children who are removed, come from families who make less than $10,000 per year.

SB 6 of the 79th Legislature and SB 758 of the 80th Legislature laid the foundations and direction for addressing the issue over-representation in the system. There are twelve Disproportionality Specialists throughout the state of Texas, at least one in every region. Damarise Nicholson is a Disproportionality Specialist; she represents McLennan and 30 other counties in region 7.

In addition to local initiatives, in an attempt to improve services and eradicate disparities and disproportionality, the state seeks to increase staff diversity, educate local communities. Also through programs like the Kinship Care Initiative, Faith Based Initiative, or Family Group Conferencing families focus on their strengths--intended to help keep children in their homes.

For KWBU news, I'm Jacqueline Deavenport.

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