Race Matters- Solutions to Address the Compounding Problem

In my first post I talked about why race matters in the child welfare system. In my second, I narrowed the focus to talk about why race should be considered in foster care placement decisions. I also acknowledged a significant limitation to considering race in placement decisions: the major shortage of foster homes. In this post, I will talk about potential solutions to the problems I discussed. While there are many ways in which I believe the child welfare system can be improved, I am limiting myself to three things that I believe can be done fairly easily in order to address race in placements: use kinship placements as much as possible, recruit more families of color, and provide better training to foster parents involved in transracial placements.

I would also like to recognize that none of these ideas is new or novel in this conversation, but I’m talking about them because they aren’t currently the norm. I believe that they need to be implemented on a much wider scale, and one way to start that process is simply by talking about them and letting people know that, first, there is a problem that needs to be solved, and, second, there are existing solutions that just need more support. Continue reading “Race Matters- Solutions to Address the Compounding Problem”

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Race Matters- Let’s Consider It

As I argued in my first post, race matters when making decisions in the foster care system. Children of color are overrepresented in the system and have poorer outcomes. I also discussed how this is likely tied to the ideas of the white savior complex and implicit biases. One way that I believe we can combat some of the negative impacts of implicit biases and the white savior complex is to consider race and culture in children’s foster care placements. In this post, I’ll discuss why it’s important for race to be considered in placement decisions, and what is currently being done–and not being done–to consider race. I’ll conclude with how I believe race should be considered and the current limitations of racial considerations.

Who makes the decisions about race and culture?

Parents make all kinds of decisions related to their child’s upbringing; they make decisions about their education, what kind of religious upbringing they may have, what kind of food they eat, whether or not they can have sleepovers, what time curfew will be, etc. Included in these decisions are choices parents make related to what culture the child will be raised in, and how the parents will tackle the issue of race with their child. Many of us may take for granted that parents are allowed to make all of these decisions for their child, because to do so is a legal right. The Supreme Court held in Meyer v. State of Nebraska (1923), that parents have the fundamental right to control the upbringing of their children as they see fit. Continue reading “Race Matters- Let’s Consider It”

White Saviors are Not Saving Children

While many of us would like to believe we live in a post racial era, where everyone is seen and treated as an equal, unfortunately, that just isn’t so. In many of our systems, even those designed to do good and help others, race matters a great deal. One such system is the child welfare/ foster care system. It’s no secret that children of color are overrepresented in this system. This has been acknowledged for many years. In this series of posts, I aim to address why race matters in this system, how the race and culture of a child should be considered in his/her foster care placement, and the ways in which we can work to make the system better for children and families of color.

Before we dive into talking about racial disparities, implicit biases, and sifting through whether or not the child welfare system is racist and what that really means, there’s something that I think is important to acknowledge and understand: discussing race often makes people uncomfortable, defensive, and sometimes angry. I believe it is critical to establish the lens through which I am viewing and discussing this issue.

Continue reading “White Saviors are Not Saving Children”

White Saviorism in the Foster Care System

My name is Erin Flowers and I am a third year at Santa Clara University School of Law. Having worked in the foster care system as a former social worker in New York City, I’m passionate about finding ways to ensure that the system works well for the children and families it serves.

This semester I’ll be researching and analyzing the foster care system in California, looking to see what role the White Savior Industrial Complex plays. The White Savior Industrial Complex is a term coined by Teju Cole in his 2012 article The White Savior Industrial Complex published in The Atlantic. The term is used to describe the idea that white people often think they know best and “do good” by “saving” poor people, while ignoring the policies they have supported that created the very inequalities and systems of oppression poor people suffer from. Continue reading “White Saviorism in the Foster Care System”