Changing Course: Improving Outcomes for African-American Males Involved With Child Welfare Systems

by Frank Farrow; Judith Meltzer; Oronde Miller; Susan Notkin

Mar 1, 2014

This paper draws attention to African-American boys and young men who are involved with the nation's child welfare systems and identifies policies and practices that can help to improve their experiences and outcomes.
  • African-American males are over-represented in the foster care system: They are 2.5 times more likely to be in foster care than their non-African-American peers.
  • They are less likely to be placed in foster family homes (either relative or non-relative placements) and more likely to be placed in congregate care (group homes or other institutional settings), with more frequent placement moves.
  • For many African-American youth, their cumulative experiences in the child welfare system reinforced their isolation and their feeling that their presence was a burden to the professional adult figures to whom they were most closely connected.
  • Child welfare agencies and their allies must establish an overarching organizational commitment to race equity; understand and respond to the complex ways in which structural racism shapes the experiences and well-being of African-American males; and create ways for the voices, aspirations and input of youth to be visible and influential in all aspects of programming and accountability.
  • These efforts should be linked to the growing movement to improve the opportunities of African-American boys and young men, so that youth involved with child welfare are positively affected by initiatives such as My Brother's Keeper.