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Health and Family Services Cabinet
Media Advisory: Conference to focus on racial disparity in child welfare system; Higher number of African-American children in state foster care

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, October 02, 2007  
Contact Information:  Anya Armes Weber, (502) 564-6180 or Vikki Franklin, (502) 564-7042  

Note: This advisory is not for publication. Participants have been invited. Reporters are welcome to attend. 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 2, 2007) – The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) and the Louisville Neighborhood Place network are sponsoring a conference on race, community and child welfare next week.

The conference is Tuesday, Oct. 9, in the Galt House Hotel, 140 N. Fourth St., Louisville.

“Our staff is concerned about the high representation of African-American children in the state’s foster care system,” said Mark A. Washington, commissioner of CHFS’ Department for Community Based Services (DCBS). “With partners from every facet of the community, we can work to better understand the issue and keep more families safely together.”

Those from the fields of social work, law enforcement, education and child advocacy are particularly invited to attend. The opening session, featuring both keynote speakers, is at 9 a.m.

The conference will examine the movement to address racial disproportionality and disparate outcomes for children of color in the community child welfare system. Studies show that rates of abuse referrals and substantiations and out-of-home care entries for African-Americans and other children of color are higher than would be expected based on state census numbers.

Scheduled speakers include Oronde Miller, a developmental psychologist and general services improvement director for the Casey Family Programs Foundation. Miller is a former foster child and an expert in national disproportionality studies. Carol Wilson Spigner, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Policy and Practice, also will address the conference. She is collaborative chair of the Casey Family Program’s project on disproportionality and former associate commissioner of the Children’s Bureau.

Other conference highlights include workshops led by expert panels, small group discussions and a resource room for further research.

“We hope this conference inspires stronger networking among the partners who can make a difference in the challenge of racial disparity,” Washington said. “The goal of the conference is to collaborate to give all Kentucky children the same chance at better outcomes within their home communities.”

To research the disparity, CHFS has worked closely with the nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private, national organization that supports child and family organizations.

The Jefferson Service Region and CHFS’ Office of Quality Management have studied race and child welfare for the past two years. In April, CHFS announced the Community, Race and Child Welfare Initiative, which targets 11 counties where African-American children are represented in state foster care at more than one and a half times the census rate.

CHFS’ plans include expanding the use of parent advocates to mentor families and collaborating with state universities to provide continuing educational opportunities on “How Race Matters,” a training seminar from the People’s Institute, a national group that provides anti-racism education.

For more information about the race and child welfare project, log on to Or call conference organizers Delanor Manson at (502) 595-3225, or Larry Michalczyk at (502) 595-5647.

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Last Updated 10/2/2007