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APSAC Are Child Welfare Case Outcomes Black and White? Responding to Race Disparities Perceived by Permanency Professionals and Caregivers of Black Children

Training Overview

When children are removed from their homes because of neglect or abuse, the goal of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is to return them to a loving, safe, stable, and permanent home as soon as possible. Ideally, children are reunified with their parents, but when this cannot be done safely, the alternatives are often adoption or guardianship. Unfortunately, the most recent statistics show that 48.1% of children and youth who entered substitute care in Illinois in 2019 were not placed in a permanent home within three years. The difficulty of placing children in permanent homes is worse for Black children in substitute care. More White children entering substitute care in Illinois in 2019 reached a permanent home within three years (56.6%) than Black children (45.7%).

This webinar shares findings from a recent study that used both interviews and surveys to capture the perceptions of caregivers of Black children and permanency professionals on the role of race in permanency practices. Participants shared how factors like inequitable treatment, implicit bias, deficiencies in cultural competency, and structural racism impact permanency for Black youth in Illinois. Furthermore, Black caseworkers and supervisors were significantly more likely than White caseworkers and supervisors to report that they perceived racial disparities, reinforcing the importance of engaging Black child welfare workers’ perspectives in identifying and addressing racial inequities for Black children in child welfare.

It will take concerted efforts and cultural changes to reduce racial disparities for Black children in Illinois. We will discuss steps the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services are taking to change both practice and culture to better serve Black children in care and their families. This includes a new initiative to increase guardianship across the state and important legislation changes promoting guardianship as a permanent family arrangement. The Department is also working to mitigate implicit biases and build cultural competency and humility into the agency’s culture. Participants will be invited to share their observations of the role of race in permanency in their jurisdiction and any efforts they are part of that are aimed at reducing racial inequities in permanency.

Learning Objectives

  1. Attendees will be able to identify what caseworkers and supervisors perceive as the most common differences between Black and White children and families in permanency planning, use of guardianship and adoption, and child well system supports.
  2. Attendees will understand why it is important to explore the differences in perception between Black and White permanency professionals and caregivers, especially regarding issues of race.
  3. Attendees will be able to describe the efforts one state is making to reduce racial disparities throughout their child welfare system.

About Presenters

Dagene Z. Brown, AM, LSW – Ms. Brown serves as the DCFS’ Director of Racial Equity Practice, overseeing the Department’s initiatives to address systematic and institutional racism that perpetuates disproportionality for BIPOC children in Illinois. Dagené has been instrumental in leading the statewide implementation of the Department’s program initiatives. She specializes in leading multi-disciplinary teams to deliver effective programmatic and operational solutions in a fastpaced execution environment to achieve organizational objectives; particularly in achieving systems integration and program alignment. Ms. Brown, a licensed social worker, and has more than 20 years’ experience in family advocacy. Her background also includes delivering social work services in the education, nonprofit, and healthcare arenas. Ms. Brown is a 2023 recipient of the “Women Making History” award from the National Council of Negro Women. She is a graduate of Bradley University and the University of Chicago, Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice.

Heather L. Fox, PhD – Dr. Fox is a mixed-methods researcher who champions implementing and scaling evidence-based strategies to improve equity in education and child welfare settings. Dr. Fox is a pragmatic researcher dedicated to translating research findings into actionable and anti-racist practices that support the wellbeing and resiliency of children, youth, and their families. Dr. Fox is contracted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to facilitate research translation that supports data-informed and equity-centered efforts to improve the experiences and outcomes for children, youth and families engaged in the child welfare system. This work includes designing, conducting, and contributing to mixed-methods research and evaluation studies utilizing quantitative analysis (descriptive, correlational, geospatial, and quasi-experimental); qualitative analysis (narrative, grounded theory, and phenomenological-thematic); and cross-sectional and successive independent sample mixed-method surveys.

Cady Landa, PhD – Cady Landa has a Ph.D. in Social Policy from Brandeis University Heller School for Social Policy and Management and an M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Dr. Landa has a background in public policy- and program-related research, public policy development, teaching, and non-profit management. Dr. Landa’s overarching interest is in developing public policies and programs that support the well-being of families, children, youth, and parents. Her current interests include immigrant families, children and youth with special needs, the transition of youth to adult status, equity and inclusion, and how services can be delivered in ways that promote stakeholder coordination, client participation, and individualization.

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Cancellation Policy

No cancellations. No refunds. Registration is transferable. Requests for transfer to a future event will also be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you have any questions please email us at [email protected].