This issue of Child Welfare journal, Transforming Child Welfare through Anti-Racist Approaches, strives to promote discussion and research that encourages a more just, equitable, anti-racist approach to safety, permanency and well-being for Black, Brown, and Indigenous children and families-especially those who are at risk of abuse, maltreatment, and neglect.
The idea for this special issue emerged just before 2020's powerful awakening to the emotional and physical impacts of racism in this country and subsequent calls for transforming or dismantling the police, child welfare, and other systems seen as harmful to people of color. From its outset, this special double issue's intent was to break through the ongoing debates about the causes of the disproportionate involvement and disparity in outcomes of Black, Brown, and Indigenous children in child welfare, and honestly, transparently probe the roles of historical and ongoing racism and White supremacy as contributors to the overrepresentation of children of color in the system. Moreover, this double issue strives to identify strategies that address racial inequities through anti-racist frameworks that meaningfully involve families and communities in rebuilding harmful structures and improving child and family outcomes.
It is important to start with what was stated in our Call for Papers. There, the co-editors of this double issue, Alan Dettlaff (University of Houston) and Kristen Weber (Center for the Study of Social Policy), wrote, "Much has changed since CWLA published its first special issue on challenging racial disproportionality in child welfare in 2008. However, the overrepresentation of children of color and inequitable outcomes for children of color persist. While progress has been made, attention to and urgency to act on racial disproportionality and disparities has waned in recent years, and what has been observed as a problem for more than five decades is now viewed by many as an acceptable status quo. This is due in large part to binary debates regarding whether disproportionality is the result of racial bias in child welfare systems or from differing levels of need due to poverty and related factors. This debate has not only stifled efforts to address disproportionality, but has distracted from the negative and oppressive impact of racism that creates disproportionality and disparities, both within child welfare systems and within society at large.
The history of the child welfare system, as is the history of most formal structures in the United States, is one that involves the gradual development of a system designed with the goal of...