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Copy of Child Welfare & Issues of Diversity

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Tony Serrano

on 18 October 2014

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Transcript of Copy of Child Welfare & Issues of Diversity

Disproportionality in "The System"
Immigrants & Child Welfare
Native America Leadership in Child Welfare
Customary Adoption for American Indian Children
Policies & Practices with Diverse Children, Youth & Families
The Child Welfare System

Disproportionate representation of youth in foster care: refers to the current situation in which particular racial/ethnic groups of children are represented in foster care at a higher or lower rate than their representation in the general population
Children of color: children belonging to various cultural, ethnic and racial communities
Definition (p.680)
In 2012
of the 399,546 children
in foster care
were children of color, (AFCARS; U.S. Department of Health and human Services, 2013)
In 2012 only
US children
were children of color (Childstats.gov 2012)
National statistics (p. 680)
Path to Over-representation in Child Welfare System (682-683):
Factors that contribute to the disproportionate representation of African American children in foster care:

poverty, single parent households, greater visibility to authorities, racism and bias in reporting maltreatment, welfare policies, lack of resources and lack of services

- Children of color have a higher rate of maltreatment investigations then Caucasian children, yet research shows they are not at a greater risk for maltreatment
-Children of color have a higher rate of substantiated maltreatment investigations
-Disparity in services to children of color and their families
“Challenge the over reliance on removing children from the home as opposed to addressing structural issues such as poor housing income inequalities and employment discrimination against poor people” (NASW, 2003)
Addressing Foster care inequalities for children of color (686-690)
A. Court mandated systems improvements
-Children’s Rights of New York, legal advocacy group
-Reforms being made
B. Americanization of immigrant children
C. Overrepresentation and racial disparities in CWS provisions need to be addressed in state systems
D. Worker burn out equals insufficient experienced staff
E. Ways must be found to help families so they are not at risk for having their children removed
F. Promising practices/alternatives to placement
G. Casey Family Programs
H. 2007 Federal level-“surprise!!! Same findings as previously mentioned studies!!!
The Answer???
-Fostering connections to success and increasing adoptions act (2008)

-Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare (2009)

-Racial Equity Lens (2011)
“While the issue of disproportionality has increasingly been brought to the attention of state legislators and advocacy groups, high numbers of children of color continue to be removed from their families and their communities and placed in CWS only to experience disparate outcomes.”
What's the Terminology??
queer (& questioning)

Newer terminology is
Queer Questioning
& Intersex
Whatever the label or terminology...
the population is “
poorly served
” and in urgent need of

culturally competent

child welfare services

There are no definitive answers about how many youth fit in this area within the foster care system. Some LGBTQI do not identify themselves for fear of negative reactions or receiving differential treatment.
Why do LGBTQQI youth come into foster care?
Often these youth face rejection and fear not only from their own families but from society in general.

substance use/abuse
are often means of entry into the foster care system or juvenile justice system.
Bullying & School Issues
only 15 states and the District of Columbia explicitly
prohibit bias-related discrimination, harassment, and bullying of students that include sexual orientation or gender identity.

3 other states cover only sexual orientation but not gender identity in laws related to school based victimization.

Issues that arise with the LGBTQQI population:
-psychological distress,
-health risk behaviors,
-poor educational outcomes,

-higher rates of homelessness,
-Post-Traumatic stress disorder -comorbid with other psychiatric disorders,
-higher rates of victimization of physical and sexual violence,
-more frequent participation in survival sex and/or risky behavior,
-more substance abuse
We need a Culture Change

If a youth is “caught” engaging in age appropriate sexual behaviors with a member of the same sex, often that youth is seen as a “predator.”

Agencies need to be more sensitive to such issues.
- There needs to be more
of foster families.
need to be able to express themselves.
It can look like:
-verbal harassment,
-physical, sexual or emotional abuse, -medical neglect such as being denied hormone treatments,
-emotional abuse such as proselytizing and forcing teens to attend religious intuitions that are preaching against same sex relationships,
-being forced to wear clothing that does not match their gender identity.
Victimization in
out of home care
LGBTQQI youth are in foster care longer
on average of 4.2 years regardless of the Adoption and Safe Families Act.

These children often experience a
higher number of placements.
6.35 is the average number of placements with some as high as 40 placements.

In addition to feeling estranged from their families, they feel estranged from the foster care placement, and from
untrained and insensitive staff and case workers
and from their school based situation. Often case workers assume that due to the families’ inability to deal with the uniqueness of this situation that Family Preservation will not work and therefore they and more importantly the youth miss a great opportunity for stabilization and permanency.
Other potential injustices...
What can we do??
Be culturally sensitive. Help build positive self-esteem. Provide psychoeducational support. Educate on the institutional nature of oppression. Support and build connections. Help build adaptive coping skills. Provide the youth with medical treatment including hormone treatments if desired. Provide youth with standard dating opportunities. Communicate.
for the youth to live harassment free, find families for those in need of families,
Help rebuild the families that can be rebuilt or support the youth to try to rebuild even if clinically you don’t think it will work and be there for the youth because he or she needs to try.
For more information

there is a film that informs those of us that need or would like more information:
Breaking the Silence: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Foster Youth Tell Their Stories

Please check the “Strengths and Needs on Page 161-162, the focus is interventions of LGBTQ youth on page 169-171 and the Glossary of Terms on page 173 in the Child welfare text
Terry Cross is a Native American Social Worker who is an advocated for culturally relevant child welfare practices on reservations and among tribes throughout the US.
Terry's own story began with discrimination. Born to a White father and an American Indian mother in Jamestown NY,
Terry was told that his inability to read was a result of his Indian heritage. In 4th grade it was discovered that Terry actually suffered from poor eye site.
Over his career, Terry has done many wonderful things to advocate for Native American and Alaskan families throughout the US.

Terry's founding and 30 year leadership of the
National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA)
has been one of his most notable accomplishments.
National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA)
NICWA mission

“dedicated to the well-being of American Indian and Alaska Native children and families”

the vision

“every Indian child must have access to community-based, culturally appropriate services that help them grow up safe, healthy, and spiritually strong- free from abuse, neglect, sexual exploitation, and the damaging effects of substance abuse.”
What has motivated Terry Cross?
“Over the decades, Cross has documented Indian families needlessly torn apart because child welfare workers did not have strengths, skills or supports to preserve Indian families. Cross witnessed how tribes have been exploited by paternalistic federal policies, resulting in tribal leaders no longer believing they had the authority or ability to solve local problems. Cross wrote about how Indian parents were stripped of child-rearing skills and opportunities because generation were raised in government boarding schools, which destroyed the fabric of the culture's child-rearing skills.” (Jimenez, Pasztor, Chambers & Fujii, 2015, p. 363)
As Social Workers,
What can we learn from Terry Cross?
In spite of experiencing resistance and discrimination, Cross was able to be hopeful and solution focused which lead him into the important advocacy work he does today.

He took his knowledge of cultural beliefs and translated them to modern day practice to help Indians learn how regain positive child rearing which relates to their heritage.

Cross believes in “owning our own problems” and he believes that solutions from the outside will not solve Indian problems. He took initiative, brought light to problems, gathered people together, and came up with culturally relevant solutions.

We too should be solution focused and look for people within various cultures to help us create relevant child welfare policy and advocacy.
Prior to the enactment of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA ), hundreds of thousands of Indian American Children were removed from their homes.
During the 1960's and 1970's, Indian American Children placed in foster care homes at rates of 5 to 8 times higher than other children.
Between 1969 and 1974 "25 percent to 35 percent of all Indian children had been separated from their families and/or institutions" (p. 373).
Child welfare professionals felt that Indian homes were unfit children were often separated from their families and community.
Poverty and social issues were cited but addressed
Cultural Differences
The concept of "family" for many Indian American communities extends beyond the nuclear family.
Extended family, clan and tribe also define an individual's identity and their relation to the family structure.
Often reflected in the terms people use in these communities.
Terms like
father, brother, sister, aunt and uncle
are all used interchangeably when referring to relatives of a certain age.
Children are often raised by relatives, temporarily or permanently, through an informal or customary process.
These arrangements were often perceived as abandonment by maintstream child welfare workers.
Cultural Challenges for Indian American Adoption
Although many tribes emphasize adoption by kin, the rates of are lower for Native American children compared to White or Latino Children.
Adoption of Native American children by Native American couples is rare.
Lack of culturally competent models of care for families who are willing to adopt.
Lack of resources (transportation, isolation) make it difficult to find foster or permanent homes.
Prevalent problems, like fetal alcohol syndrome in some Native communities create unique challenges for adoption.
Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978
Made provisions for the termination of parental rights more difficult than mainstream families
Provided explicit preferences for Native American children placed in adoptive homes
1. Member of the child's extended family
2.Members of the child's tribe
3.Other Indian families
Gives good-faith credit to tribal courts and law.
Secures and protects the right for Native children to retain their cultural identity.
Effects of ICWA
The rates of Native Indian children placed in foster care dropped to a rate that was still 3.6 times higher than other children.
Since the enactment of ICWA, adoption rates for Indian American Children dropped.
As a result, children removed from Indian American families are more likely to be placed into nonpermanent housing.
14 years old
Jamaican born and moved to live with aunt in Brooklyn, New York
Shaun Lawrence of Jamaica takes an oath of citizenship during a naturalization ceremony at the Chicago Cultural Center on July 3, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty)
Trends in Adoption/Child Welfare Policy
Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997 called for provisions that favored permanency options while terminating parental rights
ASFA did not specify or address how these provisions would conflict with ICWA.
The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) and other associations helped clarify the ASFA and ICWA overlap.
The Indian Adoption Program, founded soon after the passage of ICWA, emphasized for the recruitment of Indian parents for children in permanent placement setting.
The Indian Child and Family Consortium (ICFC), founded shortly after ICWA, provides education, therapy sessions, provides cultural activities, assists with grant writing and transportation
Permanency Issues
Family Dynamics:
Tribal society is strongly based on family and community
Interdependent connections with Native American community offer a sense of identity, support, purpose and commonality
Permanency planning for Indian American Children has a lot to do with
upholding cultural values
maintaining biological connections
Termination of parental rights must be carefully considered with Native tribes since connection to the family or tribe go beyond the biological parents.
Traditional and Customary Indian Adoptions
Traditional Adoption
Communities adopt children, formally or informally, into an existing family.
Children can sometimes adopt elders as grandparents.
Traditionally children adopted into a family with a big ceremony
Significance of a traditional adoption ceremony includes not only the acceptance of the nuclear family but also the tribe and kinship obligations of caring of the family.
Customary Adoption
Ceremony or process is continued
Promotes Native American traditions but includes the termination of parental rights.
Process of creating relatives and new family relationships
Does not terminate preexisting family relationships
Custodial relationship may change but cultural and emotional ties are not terminated.
Adoption is achieved through tribal legal proceedings.
• Historically, children were sometimes given to a family member often times with any due process. However this sometimes brought up some issues:

1. Informal adoption of a child by an extended family member is not federally recognized and is not required to provide any type of permanency plan.

2. Financial assistance and many other resources are only available to a child when the adoption is legally recognized.

3. Legally recognized consents are necessary for education and medical treatment.

Issues with Traditional Adoption
Legal Basis for Tribal Adoption Laws
Basic Sovereignty right allows for tribes to decide the custody of a child.
Right to enact formal adoption based on custom, tradition and tribal law
Establish policy to define adoption
AB 1325 (2009) allows for tribal customary adoption in California
Termination of parental right is not required
Address issues of cross-jurisdictional and cross-cultural issues
Refers to culture to answer complex questions
Expectations of proficient child welfare workers
Common immigration statuses
Highlight effective intervention
Immigrant Children, Youth and Families
Assess immigration status and impact on permanency planning
Follow confidentiality protocols
Become familiar with federal and state immigration policies
Refer to specialized immigration & legal resources

Expectations of Proficient Child Welfare Workers
Current Foreign-Born Population Numbers
11% of total population are foreign born (roughly 31 million)
60% - legal permanent residents or naturalized citizens
7% - refugees and asylum seekers
28% undocumented workers

Current Foreign-Born Population Numbers
Same as American Children & Youth
Normative changes during childhood & adolescence
Exceptional family & environmental stressors
Unique to Immigrant Population
Living with extended family
Left in native countries with grandparents to be reunified with parents in U.S.
Cultural dissonance between immigrant parents and American-raised children
Disciplinary practices by parents
Language barriers
Untreated mental health problems
Assimilation and acculturation
Unaccompanied minors (some refugees)

Reasons for Immigrant Children & Youth in the Child Welfare System
Federal Benefits
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
Medicaid & the Child Health Insurance Program
State Benefits
Dependent on each state’s definition and categories for immigrants
Personal Responsibility & Work Opportunity Act (1996)

Services & Benefits
Parents ineligible for Federal or State-funded services
Parents unfamiliar of afraid to engage with child welfare authorities
Child welfare workers hesitant to place in kinship care with undocumented relatives
Child welfare workers unfamiliar with immigration laws and the lack of legal resources

Immigrant Children & Youth Unique Obstacles
Common Immigration Statuses
Legal Permanent Residents
Battered Immigrant Spouses and/or their children
Trafficked Persons
Undocumented Immigrants

Common Immigration Statuses
Allows unmarried immigrant minors under the jurisdiction of a juvenile court who are under the age of twenty-one and deemed eligible for long-term foster care to apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for special immigrant status and subsequently for lawful permanent residency

SIJS incorporated into Immigration and Nationality Act (1990)

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)
Minor must qualify for long term foster care
The court must rule that family reunification is not an option
The minor must remain in foster care or go onto adoption or guardianship
The court must find that it is not in the best interests of the minor to be returned to their country or origin
The minor must be in care because of neglect, abuse, or abandonment

Criteria to Begin SIJS Application Process
Gain Lawful permanent resident status
Minor granted work authorization
Protected from deportation proceedings
Alerts USCIS

Benefits & Risks Involved in Making SIJS Application
Mid-1990’s attention drawn to systemic obstacles immigrants face accessing services
Recommendations for change followed a public health model approach
Cross-Service Training
Advisory Committee

Collaborative Endeavors Between Public Child Welfare and Immigrant Services Providers
What does it mean to have "cultural competence" if you are not from the culture of the population you are serving?
Could someone share a practical way you worked to serve someone of a different culture where you felt you were able to honor the "dignity and worth of the person?"

What are some of the NASW core values that apply to working with people of other cultures, beliefs and identity?
Full transcript