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Exploring Racial and Ethnic Disproportionalities and Disparities in Family Treatment Courts: Findings From the Regional Partnership Grant Program

NCJ Number
Philip Breitenbucher; Russ Barmajo; Colleen M. Killian; Nancy K. Young; Lisa Duong; Ken DeCarchio
Date Published
April 2018
28 pages
Findings and methodology are presented for a study that examined racial and ethnic disparities in 11 family treatment courts (FTCs) that served just over 3,500 children in out-of-home foster or kinship care.
FTCs are an outgrowth of the adult drug court movement. They have been created to address the significant strain that rising caseloads were placing on the child welfare and court systems. FTCs have emerged as a promising mode for better serving these families. They seek to respond to the many and complex needs of families in the child welfare system who are affected by parental substance use. FTCs identify and assess parents' needs, provide access to treatment, remove barriers that may affect successful engagement and completion of treatment, and provide ongoing monitoring of parent compliance. The current study examined whether the proportions of racial and ethnic minority children whose parents enrolled in the FTC program are similar to their proportions in the child welfare system and whether the permanency outcomes for children from racial and ethnic minorities within the FTC sample were comparable. The current study summarizes selected data from Round One of the Regional Partnership Grant Program, a federal initiative to improve the well-being, permanency, and safety outcomes of children and families affected by substance-use disorders and child abuse or neglect. The data collected from the FTCs show that there were differences in the enrollment of racial and ethnic minority children in the FTC programs when compared to the child welfare populations in the participating communities. Caucasian children were over-represented, and Hispanic/Latino, African-American, Asian, Pacific Islander, and multiracial children were under-represented in the FTC programs. American-Indian or Alaska-Native children were equally represented. Median length of stay in out-of-home care varied across racial and ethnic groups.