Posts Tagged ‘MEPA’

Trans/interracial placements

August 20, 2008

This post may generate some anger from various segments of the population, however it is something that we feel needs to be discussed.

Trans-racial or interracial placements are not new, in fact the placement of children of one race with a family of another has been a topic of debate for a number of years.  The reality of it is, there are children in the foster care system who, if they were not placed with a family of a different race would never get placed.  Unfortunately, there are not enough foster and adoptive homes available to place every child in a same race home.

The federal government saw this problem and in 1994 passed the Multiethnic Placement Act (amended 1996).  MEPA was passed to prevent discrimination in the placement of children.  In other words, if a minority child was in the system, the state could not keep that child from going to a qualified foster home of a different race or ethnicity.  Unfortunately Congress did not realize that they were opening up a flood gate of controversy.

Arguments have been made on both sides of the debate as to whether placing a child from one ethnic or racial group with a family of a differing ethnic/racial background was in the best interest of the child.

David Herring of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law concludes in his paper, The Multiethnic Placement Act: Threat to Foster Child Safety and Wellbeing

Based on behavioral biology and social psychology research addressing kinship cues and superficial similarities that give rise to in-group favoritism, one can formulate a hypothesis that non-kin, same-race foster care placements may be safer and healthier for children than non-kin, different-race placements.

We would argue that allowing a child to flounder in group homes, institutions and similar placements while awaiting a same race placement is more dangerous to a child’s well being than placing that child in a different race home.

We have heard that a child cannot learn about their culture if they are not living within their own community.  We have heard DCS case managers state that a white family should not have a black child placed with them because they will not know how to take care of the child’s hair.  We have heard from both sides that a child should be “with their own.”  In this century one would have hoped that the bigotry and divisiveness that permeated American society for so long would have finally died.  However, when it comes to taking care of the most vulnerable in our society, political correctness seems to be the most important criteria.

Here are a few stats from the Indiana DCS Foster Fact Sheet:

There are more than 500,000 American youth and young adults in foster care, according to a 2005 report by Casey Family Programs.
Although there is no “typical” foster child, trends and statistics help assess the state of foster care across the United States. The Child Welfare League of America, the nation’s oldest and largest child welfare organization released its most recent national statistics in 2004. This snapshot of U.S. foster care provided the following facts:

Children in Care:  On September 30, 2004, 518,000 children were in the U.S. foster care system.

Age of Children in Foster Care:  The average age for children in foster care is 10.1 years.
Only five percent of foster children are less than one year old. One of out four foster children are between the ages of one and five, and 20 percent of kids in foster care are ages 6-10. However, nearly half of foster children (49 percent) are teens and pre-teens in search of permanency.

Gender:  Of the children if foster care nationally, 53 percent are male and 47 percent are female.

Length of Stay (Nationally):  For children in foster care on September 30, 2004, the average foster care stay was 30 months. Twenty-nine percent of children leaving care in 2004 had been away from home for a year or longer. More than half of the young people leaving the system (53 percent) were reunified with their birth parents or primary caregivers.

Foster Homes:  In 2002, there were 170,000 licensed relative and non-relative foster homes nationwide. In 2004, 24 percent of youth living in out-of-home care were residing with relatives.

Adoption:  In 2004, 59 percent of adopted children received a permanent home with their foster parents, while 24 percent were adopted by a relative.

Relative Care:  More than 2 million U.S. children live with grandparents or other relatives because their parents cannot care for them. When relatives provide foster care, siblings often can stay together. Relative foster care also improves stability by allowing children to live with their families and maintain familiar community connections

Given these statistics, one would hope that those who oppose interracial placements would rethink their objections.  Every child deserves to have a loving and stable home.  Ideally, every child would be able to grow up in their own biological, two parent home.  However, due to drugs, crime, an inability to parent, or other reasons children are removed.  It is vital to us as a society to provide these children with the safe, loving and nurturing homes they need.  Not just to secure their future, but ours as a society.  If that means placing a child outside of their ethnic or racial community, then so be it.  They deserve a chance.