Iowa Center for Evaluation & Research
DMC Resource Center

Minority Youth and Families Initiative (MYFI)

Reducing Minority Over-representation in the Child Welfare System

NRCFCP's DMC Resource Center has been working with the Iowa Department of Human Services in the Des Moines and Sioux City demonstration sites (Sioux City logic model)

to reduce the over-representation of minority children in the child welfare system. Past evaluation reports are available: draft evaluation for Year One; evaluation of Polk County Year 2 [click here] evaluation in Woodbury County Year 2 [click here].

The DMC Resource Center participated in the Spring 2008 Georgetown Symposium entitled "The Overrepresentation of Children of Color in America's Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems," cosponsored by the University of Chicago Chapin Hall Center for Children. Click here for the report: Racial and Ethnic Disparity and Disproportionality in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice: A Compendium

NRCFCP contributed to the development of the
NAPCWA Agency Disproportionality Diagnostic Tool (click here)

Recent Publications and Presentations:

Resource Center staff served as contributing authors to:

Challenging Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare: Research, Policy and Practice by Green, Belanger and McRoy (2010). To obtain a copy search the title on

The MYFI project in Sioux City was presented the 2011 NICWA conference [click here for ppt]

Two MYFI presentations were provided at the NICWA Conference, in April 2009 in Reno NV.

Paper Presented at the 2nd Biennial Society for Korean Children and Youth Studies World Conference:

A Strengths Perspective: Linking Systems in Promoting Positive Youth Supports and Reducing Disproportionality [click here]

Presentation - A Strengths Perspective: Linking Systems..., Univ. of KS (7.19, 2008) [click here]

Presentation of MYFI project at the Cal State Monterey Bay Conference on Prevention and the Pathway to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect [click here]

Presentation of MYFI at Georgetown Symposium: Cross Systems Initiatives to Address Disproportionality

MYFI Practice Guide for Afr Am families (April 2008) - based on the Des Moines MYFI demonstration project

MYFI Practice Guide for Nat Am families (April 2009) - based on the Sioux City MYFI demonstration project

October 2, 2007 presentation to the Race Matters Consortium [click here]

National Indian Child Welfare Association Presentations

2009a presentation at the NICWA Conference on the Woodbury County MYFI [click here].

2009b presentation at the NICWA Conference on the Woodbury County MYFI [click here].

2008 presentation at the NICWA Conference on the Woodbury County MYFI [click here].

2007 presentation at the NICWA Conference on the Woodbury County MYFI [click here].

2006 presentation at the NICWA Conference on the Woodbury County MYFI [click here].

For quickfacts on Native Americans living in Iowa from the Iowa Data Center [click here]

On June 22, 2005 a conference was held in Sioux City titled "Listening to the Voices: Beyond the Addiction," a community uprising sponsored by The Community Initiative for Native Children and Families, Iowa Department of Human Services, Sioux City Police Department and The University of Iowa School of Social Work. For the proceedings click here.

For links to MYFI related materials on the DHS website [click here]

Click here to access organizational capacity assessment tools.

Click here to access the guided assessment tool for Risk Assessment in Child Welfare (Gilgun, 2000)

Disproportionate representation in the child welfare system: Emerging promising practices survey. Vandergrift, K. (2006). Washington, DC National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators an affiliate of the American Public Human Services Association:

The NASW Specialty Practice Sections Annual Bulletin InterSections in Practice is available online: The theme of the Fall 2005 issue is disparities and contains an article by DMC Coordinator Brad Richardson and Nancy McFall Jean of NASW. Charlene Thiede of the Iowa Department of Education is also a featured author in the most recent issue of InterSections in Practice.

The Link, CWLA's juvenile justice newsletter explores the link between involvement in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and is available online as a downloadable PDF file (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader). The current issue (Fall/Winter 2005) contains the feature article by Dr. Brad Richardson entitled:

"Community Interventions to Reduce Over-Representation in Iowa's Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems." To download and read the latest issue of The Link, go to:

Overrepresentation of Minority Children: How the Child Welfare System Is Responding (2003)
This report from the Children's Bureau suggests that children of color, especially African American children, are over represented in the child welfare system for a variety of reasons, including poverty and racial bias. It is one of the first studies to explore the attitudes and perceptions of the child welfare community regarding racial disproportionality. It emphasizes the need for stronger administrative support, increased staff training in both general child welfare issues and cultural competency, and more internal and external resources to better serve families.

Racial Disproportionality in the U.S. Child Welfare System: Documentation, Research on Causes, and Promising Practices (2002)

This report prepared for The Annie E. Casey Foundation by Dorothy E. Roberts, Northwestern University School of Law, provides historical documentation of racial disparities in child welfare, examines the theories that racial disparity "may stem from societal conditions outside the system that increase the risk of involvement...; from racially differential practices within the system; or from both," and offers suggestions for promising practices to successfully reduce the level of disproportionality in state systems.

The National Resource Center for Respite and Crisis Care Services published Fact Sheet Number 50 in 1997. Authored by Shirley Pinder Cook the article states: Cultural responsiveness is being aware of, and capable of functioning in, the context of cultural difference. It is an essential tool in moving personal and professional interactions beyond racial assessments to cultural relevancy. Building capacities and skills to communicate effectively with individuals from any culture opens avenues to more information that can assist in the development of service plans. It also assists in the development of intervention strategies that recognize unique strengths and respect competencies.

As another example of a child welfare redesign, the California Child Welfare Redesign, may be found at:

The 3rd in a series of National Incidence Studies (NIS) confirms findings from previous NIS. The NIS-3 (Natl Incidence Study 3) found no race differences in maltreatment incidence. The NIS-3 reiterates the findings of the earlier national incidence studies in this regard. That is, the NIS-1 and the NIS-2 also found no significant race differences in the incidence of maltreatment or maltreatment-related injuries.

For more information on the Minority Youth and Families Initiative contact:
Brad Richardson
Associate Research Scientist
(319) 335-4924






NRCFCP - 319.335.4965

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