Friday, March 27, 2009

The Kansas Disproportionality Study gets underway

Since its inception in 2007, we've chronicled our advocacy efforts within the Child Welfare System here on the Wichita NAACP blog. One of the things we recently requested was for the State to examine disparities and disproportionalities in the child welfare system (see the Progress report link dated 9/08).
This effort complemented an earlier effort by Representative Melody McCray-Miller to have the State examine disproportionalities in the Juvenile Justice System. In November of 2008, Governor Sebelius announced that she would form a sub-cabinet level committee to examine disproportionalities in both the Juvenile Justice AND Child Welfare systems.

08/2007: The Wichita NAACP joins with Youthville in an effort to encourage more African American families to become foster parents 
05/2008: Wichita Branch NAACP Legal Redress Chair to meet with Kansas SRS Secretary Don Jordon 
09/2008: Progress report on Sedgwick County Child Welfare issues 
11/2008: Governor Sebelius agrees to examine disproportionalities in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice systems 
12/2008: The Wichita Eagle reports on the Wichita NAACP's Child Welfare efforts 
02/2009: Current Branch Legislative & Policy Projects 
02/2009: Legislative Action Alert - CINC notification (HB2303) and Insurance Premiums and Credit Scores (SB203) need your attention 

Today, the committees created by Governor Kathleen Sebelius to examine disproportionalities in the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice systems got underway. There are 6 workgroups representing 13 counties from different areas of the State that have been identified as having moderate to extreme rates of disproportionality with their Child Welfare and JJA systems. Those counties, and their respective disproportionality rates for African American Children vs the general population are:

The disproportionality metric represents the percentage of African American children in the child welfare system vs their presence in the general population.

Crawford Country (5.60)
Johnson County (5.43)
Shawnee County (3.52)
Reno County (3.26)
Leavenworth County (3.22)
Bourbon County (3.07)
Riley County (3.03)
Labette County (3.02)
Lyon County (2.86)
Sedgwick County (2.59)
Wyandotte County (1.78)

The workgroups have each been charged with 4 key tasks:
  1. Understand the nature and causes of disproportionality in our State
  2. Understand the role poverty plays in contact with the child in need of care and juvenile justice systems in Kansas
  3. Identify jurisdictions that face particularly large issues of racial inequality in child welfare and juvenile justice programs
  4. Identify approaches to address these issues.

The Wichita Branch NAACP has been actively working on all four issues for the last five years and we are looking forward to bringing our data to the table and collaborating in this process. Branch President Kevin Myles, Legal Redress Committee Chair Mary Dean, and Regulatory Review Committee Chair Sandra Gasca all serve with the Wichita/Sedgwick County workgroup. We will keep you posted as developments occur...

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