Racial Disproportionality in the Foster Care System in Texas
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This study analyzes the demographic characteristics of foster care children under the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) in Texas from 2002 to 2013. Using one state as an example, the progress charting data in 12 years demonstrates the need to set up a national agenda on closing the gap in racial disproportionality. While the data reveal an increase of Hispanic children in foster care from 33.6% in 2002 to 41.3% in 2013, in terms of disproportionality, the ratio index for Hispanic children has been much lower (0.83) than that for African American children (2.33) over all of these years. The engagement of 13 state-appointed disproportionality specialists in 2007 has shown some positive outcomes after five years. This is evidenced by examining the disproportionality index for African-American children’s representation in Texas (dropping to 1.98 in both years of 2012 and 2013). Data also show that it took over six years for the state to lower the disproportionality index of the African-American children represented in the public child welfare system by only 0.02. Continuous efforts must be planned so that this reducing trend will continue and its committed workforce will expand. These demographic data analyses support the need for Texas to further examine the state’s service development to ensure that foster children and their families of all ethnicities receive services that are gender sensitive, age and development specific, and efficient.