Saturday, March 31, 2007

Solve the Problem!

The state care population is nineteen percent. The African-American population is seven percent. The problem is obvious. Why is a study necessary?

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

Concerned about the disproportionate number of black children in state care, Kentucky officials are launching a project to determine why so many are being removed from homes and what can be done about it. About 19 percent of the 7,000 children in state care are black, yet African Americans make up only 7.3 percent of Kentucky’s population.

"This is an opportunity to make a difference and do what’s right,"" said Tom Emberton Jr., who oversees the state social-service system for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. African-American lawmakers from Jefferson County — which has the highest rate of black children removed from homes because of alleged abuse and neglect — welcome the initiative.

More than half the Jefferson County children in state care are black, although African Americans make up only 19 percent of the population. "The numbers are disturbing,"" said state Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville. "We must find out exactly what’s going on and how to correct it. Neal said he believes there is "clearly a racial component" but said the issue probably is more complex — involving poverty, housing, services for families such as counseling or drug treatment and other issues.

State Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, said he is concerned about the problem, particularly in Jefferson County. "The numbers are staggering," he said. "This is a very serious problem, and we have to find out the reason for it."

Emberton said that’s what the state intends to do in coming months. It has identified 11 counties with the highest rates of black children in state care and will spend about $500,000 over the next year to try to find out why. At the same time, the state is launching more training and education on possible biases by those involved in child welfare and how to overcome them.

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