Children who enter the child welfare system, particularly African-American males, are more likely to have mental health and other emotional challenges, as well as other problems including, but not limited to, low academic achievement, delinquency, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse. Moreover, they are more likely to be arrested for violent and criminal behavior as juveniles and adults. In addition, the economic consequences associated with the child welfare system are important to recognize.
On January 14–15, 2013, the Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health at American Institutes for Research and the Center for the Study of Social Policy convened 55 practitioners, researchers, family members, and foster youth to focus on improving outcomes for African-American males in the child welfare system. See meeting summary.
The primary objective of the meeting was to stimulate group conversations through interactive panel discussions with foster parents and youth, and through presentations on effective programming and interventions by child welfare practitioners, program developers, and researchers. From these sessions, eight major areas of focus for improving outcomes for African-American males emerged:
- Incorporating the voices and experiences of African-American males and their foster parents to inform child welfare practices and policy
- Rethinking the way mental health services are presented and delivered to African-American males in child welfare
- Addressing the issues of trauma, trauma-informed care, and well-being to promote better outcomes for African-American males in child welfare
- Examining social structures and the ways in which institutional racism negatively impacts the shaping of policies and development of programs serving African-American males in child welfare
- Identifying programs that foster resiliency in African-American males
- Providing enhanced supports and training for foster parents to impact positive outcomes for African-American males in child welfare
- Identifying educational issues affecting African-American males and supporting their educational strengths
- Galvanizing community support to impact the well-being of youth and families