The intractable issue of racial injustice is creating and perpetuating child trauma and disrupting family wellbeing. Child protection authorities taking black children into custody at higher rates is not a new phenomenon. In 1972, Andrew Billingsley and Jeanne Giovannoni wrote a book that traced the history of unjust treatment of black families by the child welfare system. Dorothy Roberts, in her 2002 book Shattered Bonds, discussed how the child welfare system was negatively impacting the relationships between black children and their parents, as well as, black families and their communities. The heavy surveillance and criminalization of black mothers by the child welfare system has become disturbingly known as Jane Crow . This is a painful comparison for the African American community. Jim Crow legalized racial bias in the form of segregation from the late 1870s until the landmark Supreme court case, Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954 . Just as Jim Crow was a legal sanction, so is the discretionary removal of children from their homes by child protective services. Too often, implicit bias informs the decisions to disrupt and separate families. And these families are disproportionately black, minority and living on insufficient income. Jane Crow, albeit a colloquial term, is an adequate description of our child welfare system today.
It’s time to spread the idea that we can nullify bias and racism with in our foster care system.
Watch my TED Talk on Implicit Bias in Child Welfare.