Racial Disproportionality

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About the Report

In 2007, the Washington state legislature required the formation of the Washington State Racial Disproportionality Advisory Committee to explore the root causes of and make recommendations for remediation of the racial disproportionality and disparity in Washington state.

Racial disproportionality is defined as the overrepresentation of children of color in the child welfare system, compared to their numbers in the population. Racial disproportionality occurs across the United States in all social welfare systems. Disproportionality is a national problem. Children of color and their families who become involved with child welfare systems often experience disparate treatment and may have fewer service opportunities than their white peers.

Although abuse and neglect do not occur at higher rates for children of color compared to white children, they are more likely to be the subjects of allegations and referrals than their Caucasian counterparts. Moreover they enter child welfare systems at higher rates, remain in care for longer periods of time, are less likely to be placed in adoptive homes, and experience poorer outcomes than other children.

Washington state, through the efforts of the legislature and the guidance of the Washington State Racial Disproportionality Advisory Committee, has compiled a comprehensive process to address and eliminate racial disproportionality from our child welfare system.

The report was presented in December 2008 to the DSHS Secretary who forwarded the remediation plan to the legislature.

Racial Disproportionality Newsletter

2013 WSRDAC Retreat

Mandated Reporter Toolkit

See the Mandated Reporter Toolkit in Reports and Information for links to:

  • Protecting the Abused and Neglected Child - guides in English and Spanish
  • Child Protective Services: Guidance for Mandated Reporters - PowerPoint
  • What Mandated Reporters Need to Know about Racial Disproportionality in the Child Welfare System - YouTube video


For more information on racial disproportionality, to schedule a briefing or presentation, or to comment on the report: