LAO Releases Report on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in California Child Welfare System

Bo Tefu, Antonio Ray Harvey, Lila Brown and Joe W. Bowers Jr. | California Black Media

Racial inequalities in California’s child welfare system disproportionately impact poor Black and Native American children, according to a report released April 3 by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO). 

The report, which was presented to the Assembly Subcommittee No. 2 on Human Services — chaired by Assemblymember Corey Jackson (D-Moreno Valley) — states that the proportion of low-income Black and Native American children in foster care is four times larger than other racial and ethnic groups in the state.

Half of the children from each racial group have experienced some level of child welfare involvement before reaching legal age. 

Jackson is a member of the California Legislative Black Caucus.

“Racial and ethnic disproportionality and disparities are present within initial allegations and persist at all levels of the system — becoming the most pronounced for youth in care,” the report states.

The disparities have persisted over the last decade across the state, the LAO found, adding that Black children living in poverty are more likely to enter foster care. State data shows that there is a correlation between poverty and foster placement in each county.

“Throughout all levels of the child welfare system, families experiencing poverty are more likely to come to the attention of and be impacted by the child welfare system,” stated the report.

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