Child Welfare Decision-Making: Does Race Matter? Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Brevard, Kanisha
    • Affiliation: School of Social Work
  • Black children consistently make up a disproportionate share of children in child welfare agencies across the nation. Using administrative from the state of Illinois, this study explores predictors of disparity in case substantiation decisions among black and white workers investigating black and white children for allegations of child abuse and neglect between the years of 1990 and 2015. The study summarized child welfare policies and programs in Illinois that have been created to directly or indirectly reduce racial disproportionality. The study examined whether a worker’s decision to substantiate an allegation of maltreatment was determined by the race of the child, the race of the child welfare worker, and the type of allegation being investigated. Differences in workers’ substantiation rates for black and white children over time were also investigated. Main findings showed that all children were more likely to be substantiated if they had an allegation that was substance-related, and this finding held for both black and white workers. However, white workers were more likely than black workers to substantiate a substance-related allegation if the child was black. Also, when racial composition of a worker’s caseload was controlled for, findings showed that higher proportions of black children in a caseload were associated with lower levels of racial disparity and smaller proportions were associated with higher levels of racial disparity among caseworkers. Overall, findings suggest that racial differences in child welfare decision-making exist and should continue to be explored to understand how race, type of allegation, and caseload racial composition play a role in workers’ decision to substantiate different allegations of child abuse.
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  • In Copyright
  • Lanier, Paul
  • Washington, Tyreasa
  • Rolock, Nancy
  • Testa, Mark
  • Duncan, Dean, III
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2017

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