Spotlight on Advancing Race Equity Through Engagement and Partnerships

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Spotlight On...

Advancing Race Equity Through Engagement and Partnerships 


Engagement and partnerships with youth, families, communities, and tribes are essential strategies for reducing racial disparities in child welfare services and achieving more equitable outcomes. Meaningful engagement and partnership require learning from, listening to, and acting on the recommendations of youth, families, communities, and tribes. Importantly, the core of this work involves shared decision-making, which can be a significant and uncomfortable shift from how decisions were made in the past. 

At the case level, caseworkers can actively collaborate with youth and family members, recognizing them as experts and empowering them to drive service plans tailored to their needs. Community and tribal representatives can be engaged as cultural brokers to provide advocacy and support for families involved with child welfare or at risk of involvement. At the peer level, parents and young adults can serve as mentors and partners to support other parents and youth in navigating the complex child welfare system. At the system level, youth, family, community members, and tribal representatives can serve on decision-making boards, co-develop culturally relevant resources, implement policy changes, partner in research, and so much more. 

Tapping into the expertise and skills of individuals most affected by child welfare services can empower them to advocate for services and programs that meet their needs while also advocating for change to remove system barriers.


  • Lack of engagement contributes to racial disproportionality and disparate treatment of Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and other families of color in the child welfare system.[1]
  • Communities that used family engagement in case-planning and decision-making processes reported fewer children entering foster care, increased rates of kin placements when removal from the home was necessary, increased exits from out-of-home care, and shorter stays in care.[2]
  • The active involvement of youth, families, and community members directly affected by the child welfare system deepens understanding of the complex factors that contribute to disparate outcomes for children and families of color.[3]


The Capacity Building Center for States (Center) supports child welfare agencies in engaging and partnering at case, peer, program, and system levels. Center resources and events (see below) feature tips and strategies for purposeful engagement and meaningful participation of youth, families, communities, and tribes.

Child Welfare Virtual Expo 2021:

Advancing Racial Equity in Child Welfare

Register now for the Child Welfare Virtual Expo on September 23 to learn about:

  • Implementing equitable strategies for sharing power with youth, families, communities, and tribes
  • Understanding current and historical inequities in child welfare
  • Using data and evaluation to understand and address racial disparities and structural racism
  • Building a diverse, inclusive workforce and an organizational culture that values lived expertise

Register Now 


Training Resources

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