Racial Disproportionality

Children and families of color are disproportionately represented in child welfare systems across the United States. In order to develop strategies to address the systemic factors that lead to these inequities, child welfare administrators and policymakers need data that are disaggregated by race and examine key decision-points within the child welfare services continuum. The Children and Family Research Center began analyzing and reporting on racial disproportionality in the Illinois child welfare system in 2017 as part of our annual B.H. Consent Decree monitoring report. Each year, the CFRC produces a report that examines racial disproportionality in the Illinois child welfare system at six critical decision points, including: 1) screened-in maltreatment reports/investigations, 2) protective custodies, 3) indicated maltreatment reports, 4) child welfare case openings (intact family services), 5) substitute care entries, and 6) timely exits from substitute care. The results are presented for the entire state as well as by region.

In FY2023, the CFRC is expanding its work on racial disproportionality in child welfare by producing a new annual report that examines the impact of race on additional indicators including investigations and indicated investigations by maltreatment allegation, involvement in investigation safety plans, substitute care placement types, length of time spent in substitute care, and exits to legally permanent families through reunifications, adoptions, and guardianships. This annual report will be presented to the Illinois General Assembly and the Department of Children and Family Services as mandated by HB2914. The CFRC is also engaging in research that seeks to better understand the root causes of racial disproportionality in different areas of the child welfare system and conducts program evaluations that test the effectiveness of new programs and interventions to reduce disproportionality.

CFRC Director Tamara Fuller was appointed by Governor J.B. Pritzker to sit on the Advisory Commission on Reducing the Disproportionate Representation of African-American Children in Foster Care. This advisory commission was established by Public Act 102-0470 and serves as a coordinating and advocating body that acts on behalf of the interests of African-American children who are at risk of placement within the state's child welfare system. The advisory commission advises the governor and the General Assembly and works directly with state agencies to identify those causes and factors that contribute to the overrepresentation of African-American children in foster care and develop effective strategies, policies, services and programs aimed to advance more equitable outcomes for African-American children and their families involved with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.