Finding Our Voice, Raising Our Voice will work directly with the youth and the public child welfare system to address the issue of overrepresentation of African American children in the public child welfare system. Finding Our Voice, Raising Our Voice will work towards the goal of racial healing, addressing disproportionality through community education, public child welfare system policy review, Child Centered Recruitment, workshop presentations and discussion groups. A series of educational sessions and dialogues will be offered that focus on the issues of race, institutional racism and racial healing for social workers and staff within the county system and identical sessions will also be held for the private contractors who work with CCDCFS on placing older, minority youth in adoptive homes. Engaging the youth who have been impacted by the public child welfare system is a central component in the organization’s plan to facilitate racial healing and youth, ages 13 and above, will be engaged to participate in the project through an existing series of youth support groups that will provide a forum for discussion. Youth will also participate in review of agency policies and strategic planning committees, which have a direct impact on agency policy regarding youth in the public child welfare system.
Through the dialogues these groups will: gain a better understanding of the history of racism in America; understand the cumulative disadvantages of structural racism on youth in the child welfare system; and learn to serve as a representative in the community to address issues and misconceptions regarding foster care and adoption for African American youth in the public child welfare system. Through participation in strategic planning committees, these groups will provide their unique perspectives on how policy changes will impact the public child welfare system. Finally, this project would support the continuation of Child Centered Recruitment, a new methodology that has been successful in finding families for more than 400 waiting youth since 2004, and which has proven to be effective in reducing the disproportionate representation of African-American youth in the public child welfare system.