While only about 15% of U.S. American children are African American, over 30% of the children in U.S. foster care are Black. A new federally funded campaign aimed directly at encouraging Black parents to adopt Black children from foster care launched this week to try and balance some of the disparity.
Programs to help place children with biological relatives have already moved the numbers of Black children in foster care from over 40% to the present figure. Most often, foster-adoptive parents are aunts or grandmothers (of all races). But the new campaign is meant to bolster the numbers of non-relative foster-adoption as well.
While I applaud this better-late-than-never effort to get the least adoptable kids–minority children–especially boys–over two years old–into permanent homes, I hope that the federal government and others that hold purse strings affecting foster care and adoption are also planning to work harder on the front end of the problem, keeping kids out of foster care in the first place.
Scholar Dorothy Roberts and others have shown that under identical family circumstances, minority children–especially African American children–are much more likely to be removed from their families and placed in foster care than white children. White families facing troubles are more likely to receive services and counseling to help them stay intact and get their feet on solid ground. Black families are more likely to be separated. And once a parent loses a child to the foster system, it becomes very difficult to reunite the family.
So while finding more Black parents for Black children in real need is indeed a wonderful thing, helping them stay with their original parents whenever possible could be even more wonderful.