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2001 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol.6, No. 2
May 2001

Data On Kids Of Color in Foster Care In North Carolina

North Carolina data reveal a significant difference in the way white children and children of color experience our child welfare system. This statement is supported by a comparision of the rate at which black and white children enter foster care and the length of time they stay there.

Figure one (Percentage of Children Initially Entering Placement Authority (PA) by Race and Year of Placement) illustrates the disproportionate number of black children entering county DSS placement authority, or foster care. Though they account for only 27% of the population 19 years old and younger, black children consistently make up more than 40% of all new foster care placements. However, figure one does suggest this overrepresentation is being addressed. Black children accounted for 49% of all new placements in 1995-96. Since that time there has been a slight but steady decline: in 1999-00 black children accounted for 41% of all new placements.

Figures two and three (Fig.2: Median Days in PA by Race for All Initial Entries, Statewide and Fig. 3: Difference in Length of Time in PA Between African American and White Children, Statewide) show that once they enter foster care, African American children tend to stay there longer than do Caucasian children. But these figures also show North Carolina is improving in this area. In 1995-96 the median time spent in foster care was 92 days (or 24%) longer for black children than it was for white children. By 1998-99 most black children in the state had stays in foster care that were only 70 days (or 20%) longer than the stays of most white kids.

Please note that since this is statewide data, it does not reflect county-specific differences. Rates of entry into placement authority and lengths of stay in foster care for black children are higher/longer in some areas of the state and lower in others.

In general, however, these figures suggest that, though we still have a lot of work to do in this area, North Carolina is improving its service to African American families and children.