Voices for Children Report highlights race equity lens in Nebraska’s child welfare system
All children and families deserve an equal opportunity to a brighter future
Our friends at Voices for Children in Nebraska recently released their report, Equity Before the Law: Race & Ethnicity in the Front End of Nebraska’s Child Welfare System. This report shows how the child welfare system responds differently to families of color in Nebraska. When in the child welfare system, children of color experience more negative outcomes, including being more likely to be removed from their homes, spending longer amounts of time in out-of-home care, and experiencing a higher number of placements. These inequities occur on the front end of system involvement, as well.
Below are summarized findings dealing with the front end of the child welfare system that begin with calls of suspected maltreatment, to the decisions made on if the case should be accepted, and to what types of services families receive.
- Reports to the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: While poverty is connected with child welfare involvement, poverty alone does not account from the overrepresentation of children of color in maltreatment reports to the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline. American Indian, Black, and multi-racial or White Hispanic children are overrepresented among reports at a rate higher than their share of both the overall child population and the population of children in poverty.
- Reports and Resulting Decisions: Reports to the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline documenting maltreatment of American Indian, multi-racial, and Hispanic children were more likely to be substantiated (meaning after some investigation the Department of Health and Human Services believes the family should have a child welfare case opened) and more likely to be filed in the juvenile court.
- Response Time: Nebraska has a response time that is more than double that of the national average for the time from Hotline report to investigation, with a wait of over five days on average. Black and multi-racial children experience longer response times.
- Services: Intervention is recommended more often for children of color – 69.5% of reports to the hotline involving black children were recommended for interventions, but by comparison only 48.3% for Asian and White, non-Hispanic children. There were also slight differences in the type of services offered to families by race and ethnicity.
Race equity approaches must occur at all decision making points in the child welfare system. All children and families should be given the same opportunities to succeed.