Overview | Our Roots | The Consortium Today | Our Partners |
The Racial Equity Scorecard | Consortium Web Site | Teleconference Series


The Race Matters Consortium is a national, multisystem initiative that promotes strategies that prevent, intervene, and eliminate adverse racial disproportionality and disparities. It also works toward developing racial equity in the child welfare system.

Its members make up a national think-tank of experts in research, social work practice, public policy, and philanthropy. These experts examine the issues related to racial and ethnic disparities. They also influence policy and practice through education and consultation.

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Our Roots

The idea for the Consortium grew out of conversations in the 1990s between two sets of researchers:

They compared research findings that indicated the overwhelming overrepresentation of African American children in the child welfare system.

The two organizations had their first national meeting in 2001, which led to the publication of their analysis in a Child Welfare League of America book:

Race Matters in Child Welfare: Examining the Overrepresentation
of African Americans in the Child Welfare System (2005),

co-edited by Dennette Derezotes, John Poertner, and Mark Testa.

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The Consortium Today

The Consortium has expanded. It collaborates with others who understand the need for attention to the issues in an effort to influence change in child welfare practice and policy.

Participants in the Consortium include child welfare:

  • Researchers
  • Practitioners
  • Administrators
  • Policymakers
  • Advocates

These experts have come together to examine and address the issues that affect racial and ethnic disproportionate representation, and outcomes in the child welfare system.

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Our Partners

The Consortium has partnered with the Alliance on Racial Equity in an effort to address the needs of all children and families who come in contact with the child welfare system. The Alliance for Racial Equity funds the Rockville Institute to support the Consortium's efforts in bringing the collaborators together and in sharing with the public the results of the Consortium's work.

Casey/CSSP Alliance was established in 2004 to develop and implement a national, multiyear campaign to:

  • Address racial disparities,
  • Reduce the disproportionate representation of children from certain racial or ethnic communities in the nation's child welfare system, and
  • Achieve racial equity in the child welfare system.

The Consortium works with the Alliance by:

  • Learning what works to achieve racial equity in child welfare services in partnership with states and local communities;
  • Developing and disseminating new knowledge to the field;
  • Promoting effective Federal and state policy through education about policy options;
  • Designing and implementing data collection, research, and evaluation methods that document evidence-based practices and strategies; and
  • Ensuring that birth parents, foster youth, and alumni are leaders in helping child welfare agencies achieve racial equity in child welfare services and programs.

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The Racial Equity Scorecard

The Race Matters Consortium has played a leading role in developing a Racial Equity Scorecard. This is a tool for jurisdictions to use to examine representation of children of color in their child welfare systems.

The scorecard is a vehicle to measure representation of various races and ethnicities within a site.

Four calculations, or scores, examine differences in representation:

  • Percentage
  • Disproportionality rate
  • Rate per thousand
  • Disparity ratio

Using each of these measures in the basic scorecard enables everyone throughout the country to use the same types of measures with groups.

Sites are asked to populate a Basic Racial Equity Scorecard using these measures to get a baseline picture of their current situation.

This child welfare system participation is examined both within and across groups to see:

  • How a group compares to itself in the general population, and
  • How one group compares to another in a specific event (e.g., children in out-of-home care).

One such scorecard for Ramsey County, Minnesota, is shown here.

Scorecard for Ramsey County, Minnesota

1Child welfare data for Ramsey County was obtained from the Ramsey County Department of Human Services.
2 Population data for Ramsey County is provided first by race (AI/AN, Asian, Black, White) including both Hispanic and non-Hispanic members of each race; then below the total is data for all children of Hispanic ethnicity.
3 2005 Population Estimates obtained from the OJJDP Easy Access to Juvenile Profiles at http://ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/ojstatbb/ezapop/default.asp. Hispanic data is gathered as ethnicity data. All other counts are measured as race counts. If a child is identified as Hispanic they will appear in race counts.
4 Number in out-of-home care does not include children in shelter care.
5 The disproportionality rate is a comparison of the percentage of children of a particular race or ethnicity in the child welfare system to the percentage of the same group in the general population.
6 The rate per thousand is the number of children of a particular race or ethnicity that are represented in the child welfare system for every 1,000 of the same race or ethnicity of children in the general population.
7 The disparity ratio is the comparison of a race or ethnicity to another race or ethnicity – in this table, comparisons are made to White children.
8 The total of all children is a number obtained by combining American Indian, Asian, Black, White, and all other categories. For population data, the numbers add up to 100%, excluding the Hispanic numbers. The numbers for the child welfare data add to less than 100%, as there are additional categories – mixed, other, missing – which have not been added to this table, but are included in the analysis.

Once this initial information is gathered, site partners engage in discussions as to where the differences may occur. These discussions lead to a more in-depth analysis.

This is the first use of the Racial Equity Scorecard in examining racial and ethnic differences in the child welfare system. As efforts progress and the scorecard is expanded, it can also be used to identify further areas for which to target efforts to track change over time, and communicate to external audiences.

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Consortium Web Site

Web resources to support efforts to create racial equity in child welfare are available at www.racemattersconsortium.org. The site has been expanded to include three additional sections:

  • Why Race Matters helps the reader better understand the history of racism in child welfare and social welfare in America. It also provides information from national organizations on the importance of working toward racial equity.
  • Products, Working Papers, and Presentations provides both foundational and current research and other related information produced by the Race Matters Consortium and its partners.
  • Evidence-Based Practice provides a structure for reviewing documents for their evidence base within a racial equity lens. It also provides a compendium of articles on related topics.

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Teleconference Series

The Race Matters Consortium teleconference series runs from September through May of each year. PowerPoint slides and related report information from previous presentations are available at www.racemattersconsortium.org.

The Fall 2008 Race Matters Teleconference Series will be available on the site in September 2008.

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