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Bias, racism and evidence-based practice: The case for more focused development of the child welfare evidence base

Listed author(s):
  • Wells, Susan J.
  • Merritt, Lani M.
  • Briggs, Harold E.
Registered author(s):

    In spite of continuing concerns about disproportionate representation of African Americans, American Indians, and selected other groups in foster care, development of the practice and policy evidence base has paid scant attention to incorporating the specific concerns of these communities in intervention research. The authors review the current foundation of evidence-based practice and identify gaps in the knowledge base with specific reference to race/ethnicity/culture and class. They recognize the current concerns regarding disproportionality in child welfare services; and summarize the current research on bias and racism to establish potential mechanisms contributing to racially disproportionate outcomes. Addressing these literatures in concert with one another gives new meaning to the phrase, culturally competent evidence-based practice. Culturally competent practice goes beyond admonishing practitioners and policy makers to be more sensitive or to undertake such training. It is a pathway to the development of a more targeted and relevant evidence base: 1) rigorous intervention research with diverse populations could be more intentionally developed and 2) existing rigorous research on successfully addressing bias could be more broadly applied and tested in child welfare. A model for evaluating the validity of the evidence base with respect to diverse populations is proposed.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Children and Youth Services Review.

    Volume (Year): 31 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 11 (November)
    Pages: 1160-1171

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:31:y:2009:i:11:p:1160-1171
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    1. Lu, Yuhwa Eva & Landsverk, John & Ellis-Macleod, Elissa & Newton, Rae & Ganger, William & Johnson, Ivory, 2004. "Race, ethnicity, and case outcomes in child protective services," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 447-461, May.
    2. Poupart, John & Baker, Lannesse & Horse, John Red, 2009. "Research with American Indian communities: The value of authentic partnerships," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(11), pages 1180-1186, November.
    3. Drake, Brett & Lee, Sang Moo & Jonson-Reid, Melissa, 2009. "Race and child maltreatment reporting: Are Blacks overrepresented?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 309-316, March.
    4. McBeath, Bowen & Briggs, Harold E. & Aisenberg, Eugene, 2009. "The role of child welfare managers in promoting agency performance through experimentation," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 112-118, January.
    5. Bridge, Tana J. & Massie, Enos Greer & Mills, Crystal S., 2008. "Prioritizing cultural competence in the implementation of an evidence-based practice model," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(10), pages 1111-1118, October.
    6. Littell, Julia H., 2008. "Evidence-based or biased? The quality of published reviews of evidence-based practices," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(11), pages 1299-1317, November.
    7. Harris, Marian S. & Hackett, Wanda, 2008. "Decision points in child welfare: An action research model to address disproportionality," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 199-215, February.
    8. David Kirk, 2008. "The neighborhood context of racial and ethnic disparities in arrest," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 45(1), pages 55-77, February.
    9. Keegan Eamon, Mary & Kopels, Sandra, 2004. "`For reasons of poverty': court challenges to child welfare practices and mandated programs," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(9), pages 821-836, September.
    10. Hines, Alice M & Lemon, Kathy & Wyatt, Paige & Merdinger, Joan, 2004. "Factors related to the disproportionate involvement of children of color in the child welfare system: a review and emerging themes," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 507-527, June.
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