Racial disparities plague foster system

Auditors from the state of Kansas say that there are a disproportionate number of Black children in the foster care system, and that Black and Native American children are less likely than whites to be reunified with parents.

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July 1, 2021 - 8:27 AM

Josh Luthi, auditor with the Kansas Legislature, said a new report showed Black children were overrepresented in the state's foster care system and Black and American Indian children were less likely than white children to be reunified with their parents. (Screen capture/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — A new report by state auditors confirmed overrepresentation of Black children in Kansas foster care and that Black and American Indian children in the system were less likely than white children to be reunified with their parents.

Auditors told Kansas legislators Tuesday that Black individuals represented 6% of the state’s population in 2019, but accounted for 12% of the children in foster care. White people made up 86% of the state population, but only 78% of kids in foster care.

Josh Luthi, an auditor working for the legislative auditing division, told a joint House and Senate committee higher levels of poverty and greater involvement in social service programs among Black families could lead to more exposure to people required by law to report suspected child abuse or neglect. Another possibility is racial bias leads people to more aggressively raise potential problems in Black families, the audit said.

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