Children’s Bureau Publishes Piece by ASCI CEO Dr. Sharon McDaniel

Please visit Children’s Bureau Express for the full story.

This article is part of a series celebrating National Adoption Month. According to CBX: “This edition of CBX is intended to encourage all readers to consider National Adoption Month as a time to reflect on the importance of family—no matter how it is configured or formed. It is a time to honor the critical role family, familial support, and connection play in everyone’s life and commit to being “all in” for families. This edition will feature updates on efforts the Administration for Children and Families, the Children’s Bureau, and other partners are making nationally to promote family support and connection across the permanency continuum, with special attention to unification, reunification, kinship care, and adoption.” 

Transforming Child Welfare: Seeing Kinship Care Through a Racialized, Cultural Context and Community-Centered Lens

No child in need of child welfare supports and placement services ever asks to be placed with a stranger! Every jurisdiction in the country should recognize that children do best in their own families. When you go upstream, you disrupt the current mindset that sees children and families who are poor and/or of color through a pathological lens. Nearly 30 years ago, I founded A Second Chance, Inc. (ASCI), an agency intent on going upstream to disrupt child welfare’s typical family engagement—which was culturally and racially biased.

According to 2019 data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, only 32 percent of foster children are in relative/kinship placements. This means 68 percent are not with relatives. Placements for children in nonrelative care include nonrelative foster care (46 percent of the total children in foster care), institutional care (6 percent), trial home visits (5 percent), group homes (4 percent), preadoptive homes (4 percent), and supervised independent living (2 percent). An additional 1 percent are classified as runaways. In terms of race and ethnicity, children of color represent more than 46 percent of the child welfare population: 23 percent are African American, 21 percent are Latinx, and 2 percent are American Indian/Alaska Native. 

recent article published by The Imprint argued that there is a critical need for the child welfare system to challenge the current operating paradigm, which equates poverty to neglect. This pervasive posture of the child welfare system both perpetuates and reinforces systemic biases rooted in racial and cultural constructs, which does more harm to Black, Brown, and poor White families, who, as shown by the data, experience poor outcomes more often than not. The common notion that the “apple does not fall far from the tree” is an example of systemic bias. However, based on ASCI’s data, our respect for family works, as the percentage of children subjected to substantiated or indicated maltreatment while in kinship care is .00001 percent, and our placement stability far exceeds other forms of care.

Every discussion of child welfare practice must include a racialized and cultural context. This is a guiding philosophy at ASCI, a pioneering human services kinship care agency that trusts and values that children thrive best within the cultural and emotional closeness and care of their families. Unfortunately, the child welfare system’s current deficit-based policies, procedures, and practices undermine the trust of families. Before child welfare is even involved, the Black family is suspect, and White saviorism still influences child welfare practice, which maintains the traditional foster care model of separating children from their own families. Why is this the case?

Please visit Children’s Bureau Express for the full story.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of A Second Chance, Inc.

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