Monday, March 27, 2006


"For African-American children, there is a 'slippery slope' leading from children's protective services to juvenile detention...and possibly prison"

A report from the Michigan Advisory Committee on the Overrepresentation of Children of Color in Welfare says that, not only are too many minority children ending up in foster care, but they fare worse than other children once they are under state supervision.

The state must recognize that something is systemically wrong when African-American children make up only 18 percent of Michigan's population but represent more than 50 percent of the kids under state protection for abuse and neglect.

"Talking about race in general is very difficult and talking about child welfare is difficult," Marianne Udow, director of the Michigan Department of Human Services and a co-chair of the committee, said in an interview. "You put those two issues together and it can be very explosive, very emotional."

The report raises the possibility of inadvertent racism on the part of people throughout the child welfare system.

"Some (workers) were very offended at the suggestion that race would play any part in a decision whether to remove a child" from an abusive home, Udow said. "But it's not overt racism or individual racism; it's decisions that get made all along the way."

Looking to turn the statistics around, lawmakers directed the DHS to study why minority children are over-represented when it comes to being abused, neglected or in trouble with the law.

Art is by Emory Douglas who worked as a graphic designer, illustrator, poster artist and political cartoonist for the Black Panther Party

compiled from articles on and

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