In Los Angeles County, as in many other areas of the U.S., African American children are disproportionately overrepresented in foster care when compared with their representation in the general population.
Research also shows that lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth are overrepresented in foster care.
An August 2014 report by UCLA Law School’s Williams Institute found that LA County has 13.4% LGBQ-identified youth in foster care (compared to 7.2% in the general youth population), and 5.6% transgender youth in foster care (compared to 2.25% in the general youth population).
In addition, the representation of Latino children in the county’s foster care is continuing to grow, but the disproportionality is not quite as dramatic.
And there’s the fact that children who find themselves in the child welfare system are more likely than those who’ve not landed in foster care to have problems with health and/or education, wind up homeless, unemployed, and have an early and unplanned pregnancy.
Foster care kids’ incarceration rates are also noticeably higher than their non-foster care peers.
Plus, since LGBTQ youth are already statistically more likely to experience greater health issues before they land in foster, once in the county’s care, the gap can widen further.
The disparities go on from there and include other groups such as Native American and immigrant children.
In the hope of finding a strategy to truly address these child-harming imbalances, LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis has authored a motion, with supervisor Sheila Kuehl as co-author, which would require the creation of an Office of Equity inside LA’s Department of Children and Family Services. This new office would organize and manage the county’s efforts–existing and new—to root out and fix the disparities, while bringing the work under one centralized roof.
Read full report by Celeste Fremon, Witness LA