African American children in the child welfare and kinship system: From exclusion to over inclusion

Carrie Jefferson Smith, Wynetta Devore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


African American children have had a unique relationship to the development of the formal child welfare system. Originally excluded from the system, their numbers grew in later years of the system's development. Currently, as a group they represent the largest proportion of children in out-of-home care nationally. This pattern of overrepresentation has extended to the emerging practice of kinship care. Attention is needed to insure that these children are served in a manner that reflects sensitivity to culture as well as serious consideration for the support and permanency of children in kinship families. The purpose of this paper is to describe the relationship of African American children and families to the formal child welfare system and to the practice of kinship care as an integral part of foster care planning in the child welfare system. In addition, it encourages social workers to become more culturally competent practitioners. The evolution of kinship care policy is reviewed and the implication for culturally competent social work practice to enhance the potential for effective permanency planning is considered within an ecological theoretical perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-446
Number of pages20
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2004


  • Child welfare
  • Kinship
  • Permanency planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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