Abstract

This article proposes a radical change in the way African-American children and families are handled within the legal system when abuse and neglect are at issue. African-American disproportionality in child protection cases is significant for the United States because documentation shows that African-American children are overrepresented in the child welfare system in forty-eight states, although research shows that there is no difference in the occurrence of child abuse and neglect among the races. The first part of the article presents an overview of disproportionality by presenting the national statistics and research, revealing where racial bias and disparate treatment occurs within the child welfare system. Current state legislation developed to address disproportionality is also discussed. The second part of the article outlines the proposed African-American Child Welfare Act and sets forth the legislative goals for the legal and social work systems that serve to protect children and to improve family relationships. It also examines the need for federal legislation to address the problem of overrepresentation of African-American children in the foster care system. The third part of the article analyzes the constitutional issues that arise when proposing a federal law that provides a different set of legal guidelines for one race. The article argues that the law must change in order to counterbalance the existing disproportionality in a large-scale, meaningful way and to provide equal protection to African-American families and children.

Publication Date

2008

Document Type

Article

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