The child welfare system evolved according to the changing beliefs and attitudes regarding what type of role the government should obtain in protecting and caring for the abused and neglected children. In early interventions, the government took these concerns to remedy the state of affairs which essentially boiled down to meeting the physical needs of the children by providing with the bare necessities of food and clothing. If the abuse was suspected, then the children were placed into foster care.
African American children are overrepresented in the child welfare scheme. The figures of black children in foster care are out of proportion when compared with their white counterpart and with their figures in the general population. The U.S. government accountability office reports that black children make up 34% of the foster care population in addition to 15% of the general child population. In 2004 black children were more than twice as likely to enter foster care as to white children.
As acknowledged previously, African American children are overrepresented in the foster care system. Studies have given several theories as to the reason for this disproportionate high representation. Some researchers focus on poverty while others point at laws and policies as to the reason, and still, others blame the racial discrimination in society. Unfortunately, there is no short simple explanation as to why we have large numbers of African American children in the child welfare system.
Poor families are 22 times more likely to be involved in the child welfare system than wealthier families as well as blacks are four times more likely than other groups to live in poverty. (Bloom, D., 2010., pp. 19) Furthermore, poverty is strongly associated with incidences of abuse and neglect. For instance, it has been observed that the occurrence of child abuse and neglect, in addition to the severity of mistreatment, is much higher for children from low-economic homes than for their counterparts.
Racial discrimination is another factor that leads to the disproportionate representation of African American children in foster care. Although some may disagree that racial discrimination is present in American society. Generally speaking, the hassles of everyday living are much greater for minorities than those in the category of the majority.
Law and policies have been attributed as additional factors that cause the overrepresentation of African Americans children in the foster care system. For instance, the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997 has been cited to do more harm than good for black families. It has shifted the balance between family preservation and child safety and the permanency in a child-focused direction in a number of ways (Child welfare, 2008).
One of the reasons that have led to the disproportionate representation of African Americans is the weaknesses in child welfare policies and practices. To tackle this problem, individuals ought to examine policies and practices that put off African American families from having contact with their agencies or that unjustly keep them off from prevention and reunion support. One practice that can encourage black families is by recruiting them as adoptive parents.
1. Define the social problem and assemble some evidence?
2. Identify and describe each policy option? From your own research, you should be able to identify the policies (and interventions that flow from those policies) that are or have been proposed to address the social problem you have identified (and supplied evidence for in the above section). You should describe at least three policy options clearly and succinctly.
3. Compare the merits of the options using the selection criteria discussed in Jansson. Comparing the different policy options is a way to demonstrate your analytical skills.
4. Project and describe what will happen (what the outcome will be) if you consider one policy over another. Be specific. Make a matrix with advantages and disadvantages. What will you lose by selecting one policy option over another (trade-off)?
5. Decide on the preferred policy option. Remember, as Jansson discusses, policy analysts use criteria such as efficacy, cost, equity, administrative feasibility, unintended consequences, sustainability, and political feasibility to determine the best option. You will discuss how you used these criteria to decide on the best policy option. You don’t have to use all of the criteria but use at least 3 to help you make your decision.
6. Relevant and insightful conclusions are drawn in this section bringing together your evidence of the problem and how your policy option preference is the best policy to consider. Additionally, in the last one or two paragraphs of the Conclusion, please integrate, sum up, relate to the larger picture, asking yourself some larger questions such as “What does it all mean?” and how does this help me in acquiring the competencies required to be an effective policy advocate.