Every S., Shields, M. K., & Behrman, R.E.,

Every system has its
critiques and its praises, the foster care system is no different. While it can
be said that the foster care system is a better option than the prior solution,
orphanages, there are some parts that need to be addressed. The foster care
system in the US currently has around 428,000 children (Children’s Bureau, 2016).
Since the 1960’s African American children have been significantly over
represented in foster care and the child welfare system as a whole (Bass, S., Shields,
M. K., & Behrman, R.E., 2004). There are a number of theories that people
have used to explain this skew in the system. However there is not one that
statistically shows that it is the main reason why children of color are much
more likely to be a part of the foster care system.

African Americans
experience the highest rate of poverty in the United States. While poverty does
not mean that the child is being abused, lacking basic needs is shown that it
means a higher involvement of child protective services (Bass, S., Shields, M.
K., & Behrman, R.E., 2004). Poverty is frequently used as a basis for
maltreatment and African American children are three times more likely to be
living in poverty than Caucasian children (Roberts, 2001).

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Americans are still a minority in the United States and unfortunately society
still displays that bias. Dorothy Roberts, a professor at Northwestern
University, says this about the apparent bias of the child welfare system and
those involved, “you would have to conclude that it is an
institution designed primarily to monitor, regulate, and punish poor black
families” (Roberts, 2001). African American children make up a significant amount
of those in foster care, yet they may not be receiving the same benefits of the
system. Stukes
Chipungu and Bent-Good state in a journal article that African American
children in the foster care system receive less visits with their caseworkers,
are allowed even less visits with family members and they often are in foster
care longer than Caucasian children (Bass,
S., Shields, M. K., & Behrman, R.E., 2004). The bias of those involved is apparent because African
American children are statistically more likely to be placed in foster care for
the same problems as Caucasian children who only receive more minimal services
(Roberts, 2001).

to the child welfare system, the prison system in the United States incarcerates
a significantly larger amount of African Americans (Roberts, 2003). The
staggering amount of African Americans that are incarcerated has effected the
child welfare system in a number of ways (Roberts, 2003). Children are often
placed in to care after a parent has been incarcerated. African American women
are at a much higher risk for being charged with drug abuse then Caucasian
women who use the same (Bass, S., Shields,
M. K., & Behrman, R.E., 2004). This adds to the problem because a large number of
African American are single parents. Once parents or guardians are released
from prison they oftentimes struggle finding a job or working their way out of
the lower economic status (Roberts, 2003). They are less likely to get jobs
because they are behind in learning the skills that are necessary and some
employers may be wary to hire an individual with a criminal background. This
reinforces the cycle of poverty which has shown can lead to a more active child
welfare system.

The problem is not one that is easily solved. It
is intertwined with the policies and biases of any number of professionals and
government systems. A variety of things could be pinpointed as the “main reason”
of why African American children are much more likely to be placed in the
foster care system. However, it is the biases of society and the inner workings
of all the systems