The Howard University School of Social Work has received a grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to evaluate the effectiveness of racial equality standards in countering the overrepresentation of African Americans in child welfare systems.

Ruby M. Gourdine, D.S.W., and Jacqueline M. Smith, Ph.D., are co-principal investigators on the $75,000 grant. The grant will fund the evaluation of child welfare procedures in two states where Black children are overrepresented. The grant period runs from April 2013 to March 2014

“The rate of African-American children in the child welfare system remains disproportionate to their numbers in the general population,” Gourdine said in a statement. “Too many African-American children are removed from their homes and efforts should be made to eliminate risk faced by children in fragile families in need of intervention services.”

Studies have shown that some of the reasons African-American children are removed from their homes involve poverty, racism and a lack of cultural competency. For these reasons there may be a lack of understanding of how Black families parent and cope. Gourdine said when considering the cases of African-American children child welfare professionals often overlook alternatives to a child entering state custody, such kinship care and/ or services designed to improve parenting skills and access to resources.

These agencies selected for the study have received training on racial equality standards from the advocacy organization Black Administrators in Child Welfare (BACW), which augment the established standards required by the Council on Accreditation (COA) which is the accrediting body for child welfare agencies.

Gourdine and Smith will evaluate whether implementation of the BACW standards have been effective.