Racial disproportionality in child welfare: False logic and dangerous misunderstandings

November 30, 2011

Disproportionality and disparities in child welfare appear to be widely recognized, if not fully understood, phenomena. There is often disagreement on how to interpret or find meaning in the empirical evidence that supports the existence of disproportionality and disparities; some of the result of fertile and valuable discussion; some possibly stemming from honest misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the empirical evidence. This paper introduces five areas of potential misunderstanding or misinterpretation of empirical data, and it certainly does not exhaust these topics, but fits into a larger discussion about evaluating research, policy and best practices on racial disproportionality and disparities in juvenile dependency.