Racial Disparities Suffered by Black & Latinx Children in Foster Care

Racial Justice

Supreme Judicial Court to Hear Case Implicating Deep Disparities Suffered by Black & Latinx Children in Foster Care

Civil Rights Amicus Brief Urges Court To Require Greater Efforts To Reunify Families

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) will hear oral argument in a case concerning the obligation of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to make “reasonable efforts” to reunify families when children are removed from the home. Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) and pro bono partners from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP filed an amicus brief in the case, urging the Court to require DCF to do more to reunify families, particularly in light of the deep racial justice issues present throughout the foster care system.  

The civil rights amicus brief documents that, although only 19% of children in Massachusetts are Latinx and 8.8% are Black, they comprise 31.9% and 14.3% of the foster care population respectively. Social science research demonstrates that foster care disproportionately affects Black and Latinx children at all stages: they are removed from their homes and denied kin placements at higher rates than white children, and reunified with their families at lower rates.  After exiting the foster care system, Black and Latinx children continue to suffer disproportionate consequences, such as long-term emotional and psychological harm, as well as an increased rate of contact with the criminal justice system.  The amicusbrief argues that, particularly in light of these pervasive racial disparities, greater efforts to reunify families and prevent harm to children of color are essential.

“As a state agency, DCF should be held to account for the longstanding disparities suffered by our most vulnerable children of color,” said Sophia HallSupervising Attorney at Lawyers for Civil Rights. “Guidance by the Court in this case is one way that we can begin to improve outcomes and eliminate the racial disparities that pervade the foster care system.” 

The case is Impounded Case, SJC-13072. A copy of the amicus brief is attached and available here: