Today’s blogpost is a follow up to some information about racial disproportionality in child welfare, which gave a basic overview of the overrepresentation of certain racial and ethnic groups, specifically Black and Native American, but also in some circumstances Latino/a, children/youth in the formal foster care system.
As I mentioned in the post, highlighting the effects of racial disproportionality among children/youth in foster care, particularly when we’re talking about transracial foster care, only addresses one side of the equation.
I, perhaps naively, was hoping to find some state or nationwide data that looks at disproportionality as it relates to the race of licensed foster caregivers, as compared to the general population. But, curiously, there is no comprehensive set of data available to the public that indicates, one way or the other, the racial disproportionality of caregivers. I think that’s both problematic and note worthy, particularly when we consider the impacts of racial disproportionality on the children/youth themselves.
While an argument for or against “race matching” (pairing caregivers with children/youth of the same racial or ethnic background) is beyond the scope of this post, I do think conversations about racial disproportionality need to address both sides of the issue – who is receiving care and who is providing it.
There are many implications, and they tend to bring out more questions than answers. For example:
Who is more likely to receive licensure?
How likely are children/youth of color to be placed in a licensed foster care setting and what is the likelihood that in any given context (licensed foster care, or unlicensed kinship care) they will be placed in culturally relevant care?
What are the ways in which culturally relevant care leads to better outcomes for children/youth of color in foster care? What are the benefits and/or consequences of transracial placement for the health and well-being of foster children/youth?
There are so many more questions I would like to ask. So many issues that come up for me as I consider the many intersecting systems that shape the experiences of children/youth in foster care.
As I’ve mentioned, due to my own lack of personal experience in the formal foster care system, I am limited in my ability to speak to the experiences of transracially placed foster children and alumni. This is an issue of voice for me, personally, in not wanting to represent the voices of a group that I don’t belong to (specifically those who have had experience in formal foster care). However, because I would like to make this a site for transracial and transnational fosters in addition to adoptees, I am seeking contributors and hope that if any transracially (or transnationally) placed foster care alumni are interested in speaking out about their experiences, that they will reach out.
In the meantime, I’m posting a powerful TED Talk by Lemn Sissay called “A Child of the State”. So much here to unpack. I hope you’ll watch and consider how it relates to these last few posts.