To transform child welfare, take race out of the equation | Jessica Pryce

To transform child welfare, take race out of the equation | Jessica Pryce

I want you to imagine that you are
a Child Protective Services worker. And you have to respond
to a report of child abuse. You walk into a home, unannounced,
unexpected, certainly uninvited. The first thing you see is a mattress
in the middle of the room, on the floor. Three kids lying on it, asleep. There’s a small table nearby
with a couple of ashtrays, empty beer cans. Large rat traps are set in the corner, not too far from where
the kids lie asleep. So you make a note. A part of your job is walking
through the entire home. So you start with the kitchen,
where there’s very little food. You notice another mattress
in the bedroom, on the floor, that the mother shares
with her infant child. Now, generally, at this point,
two things may happen. The children are deemed unsafe
and removed from the home, and placed in state custody
for a specified period of time. Or the children remain with their family and the child welfare system
provides help and support. When I was a Child
Protective Services worker, I saw things like this all the time. Some far better, some far worse. I asked you to imagine
yourself in that home, because I wonder what crossed your mind. What guides your decisions? What’s going to impact
your opinion of that family? What race, ethnicity,
did you think the family was? I want you to realize
that if those children were white, it is more likely that their family
stays together after that visit. Research done at
the University of Pennsylvania found that white families, on average,
have access to more help and more support from the child welfare system. And their cases are less likely
to go through a full investigation. But on the other hand,
if those kids are black, they are four times
more likely to be removed, they spend longer periods
of time in foster care, and it’s harder to find them
a stable foster placement. Foster care is meant to be
an immediate shelter of protection for kids who are at high risk. But it’s also a confusing
and traumatic exit from the family. Research done at
the University of Minnesota found that kids
who went through foster care had more behavioral problems
and internalized issues than kids who remain with their families
while receiving help and support. The scenario I mentioned earlier
is not uncommon. A single mother,
living in low-income housing with her four children. And the rats make it
almost impossible to keep food, let alone fresh food in the home. Does that mother deserve
to have her children taken from her? Emma Ketteringham,
a family court attorney, says that if you live
in a poor neighborhood, then you better be a perfect parent. She says that we place unfair,
often unreachable standards on parents who are raising their kids
with very little money. And their neighborhood and ethnicity impact whether or not
their kids are removed. In the two years I spent
on the front lines of child welfare, I made high-stakes decisions. And I saw firsthand
how my personal values impacted my work. Now, as social work faculty
at Florida State University, I lead an institute that curates the most innovative
and effective child welfare research. And research tells us that there are
twice as many black kids in foster care, twenty-eight percent, than there are in the general
population, 14 percent. And although there are
several reasons why, I want to discuss one reason today: implicit bias. Let’s start with “implicit.” It’s subconscious,
something you’re not aware of. Bias — those stereotypes and attitudes that we all have
about certain groups of people. So, implicit bias is what lurks
in the background of every decision that we make. So how can we fix it? I have a promising solution
that I want to share. Now, in almost every state, there are high numbers of black kids
going into foster care. But data revealed that Nassau County, a community in New York, had managed to decrease
the number of black kids being removed. And in 2016, I went
into that community with my team and led a research study, discovering the use
of blind removal meetings. This is how it works. A case worker responds
to a report of child abuse. They go out to the home, but before the children are removed, the case worker
must come back to the office and present what they found. But here’s the distinction: When they present to the committee, they delete names, ethnicity,
neighborhood, race, all identifiable information. They focus on what happened,
family strength, relevant history and the parents’ ability
to protect the child. With that information,
the committee makes a recommendation, never knowing the race of the family. Blind removals have made
a drastic impact in that community. In 2011, 57 percent of the kids
going into foster care were black. But after five years of blind removals,
that is down to 21 percent. (Applause) Here’s what we learned
from talking to some of the case workers. “When a family has a history
with the department, many of us hold that history against them, even if they’re trying
to do things differently.” “When I see a case from a certain
apartment building, neighborhood or zip code, I just automatically think the worst.” “Child welfare is very subjective,
because it’s an emotional field. There’s no one who doesn’t have
emotions around this work. And it’s very hard to leave
all of your stuff at the door when you do this work. So let’s take the subjectivity
of race and neighborhood out of it, and you might get different outcomes.” Blind removals seem to be
bringing us closer to solving the problem of implicit bias
in foster-care decisions. My next step is figuring out how to use artificial intelligence
and machine learning to bring this project to scale and make it more accessible
to other states. I know we can transform child welfare. We can hold organizations accountable to developing the social consciousness
of their employees. We can hold ourselves accountable to making sure our decisions
are driven by ethics and safety. Let’s imagine a child welfare system
that focuses on partnering with parents, empowering families, and no longer see poverty as failure. Let’s work together to build a system that wants to make families stronger
instead of pulling them apart. Thank you. (Applause) (Cheering)

100 thoughts on “To transform child welfare, take race out of the equation | Jessica Pryce

  1. Take race out of the equation in college admission, and blacks will fall behind. They need special programs with easy courses to prompt them up to the level of whites and asians.

  2. “High numbers of black kids going into foster care”. Well madam, if one thing is true it is the fact that more black children are born into single mother homes and more black children are raised in communities where fathers are near non-existent. The issues isn’t the child welfare system, but the welfare system that is in need of a complete overhaul. Stop rewarding single family households and start rewarding complete family structures.

  3. Black kids are going into foster care because 70+% of black children are born out of wedlock .. they don’t have a father in their lives .. that’s a culture thing .. not a race thing

  4. Hey, way to bring race into a horrible situation to create more division between people that can’t do anything against a government that is so corrupt that you can’t find one government official saying it’s not… black or white, if you think any of us can control the evil system, you’re being played.

    We the people love each other more often then not. The system wants us to hate each other. Many are falling for it. Wake up.

    Love you no matter your color, and above all God loves you.

    Till we meet in the sky, let’s try to stay together on the ground.

    God bless you all.

    And really, AI is your key? Even more proof to the corruption. Look at what China has done with AI.

    Wanna bring families together? Promote GOD.

  5. racism is originally rooted in us. We all are racist, whether we know it or not. take ideology, religion, culture, and many more out of equation if you can… stupid bullshit.

  6. Her idea is great, it is sort of a peer reviewed to make the process more scientific. AI is probably not even needed, a network wehre the employees could review via internet would be enough. This way someone working a thousand miles away can do the review and that distributes work better across staates.

  7. I am on the right and I agree blind removals sound good, black and white case workers must be honest though or they are harming the children and they could be accountable for what happens to the children in this life and maybe the next (If you believe in that).

  8. Spoiler alert she's describing a white home. Now ima finish the rest if this cause it's that obvious they wanted us to think "their black"

  9. So the blind removal reduced removal bias based on demographics. The important question to ask has to be was this in the best interest of the child? That is what needs to be addressed here, not the basic idea of bias.

  10. If you had only thought this through and look at it from other angles you're quick to realize that this has nothing to do with racism. Problem is the single mother problem of black people, the fact that there is little input from fathers, theymake more children even if they cannot afford it, hence they cannot properly care for their offspring. It has to do with race, obviously there is a difference, but racism is out of the picture here.
    How can you expect equal results with unequal initial conditions?

  11. I think a lot of places naturally push minorities into positions of poverty. People in poverty have a tendency to commit more crimes, and when its people of this racial background committing a large number of crimes, their backgrounds disregarded, it looks like a racial problem. My state Oklahoma has one of the highest native populations in the country, of course also one of the highest drug incarceration and lowest income places in the country. We have a different problem, where we imprison more women then all other places(that register it) on earth.

    Theres a lot of factors that go into these situations, racism created a socio-economic divide between races, that divide caused crime to grow, breeding more racism. This racism caused a more standoffish and violent bender in a lot of youth black culture, which breeds more racism. When I say it breeds racism, I mean on both sides. its this circle of socioeconomic bullshit feeding into racism and vice versa. The millennials, and gen Z, might be the generations to start reversing this trend.

    The foster care system messes a lot of kids up, I would know, I was in a mental institution and met quite a few. Also they told us they used the institutions as a half way house for the kids when they didnt want to deal with them, or had nowhere else for them. That wasnt the kids saying that, that was staff. I think the blind evaluations will help keep kids out of the system more often, but it's only a small sub problem of the clusterscrew that is socioeconomic driven racism in America.

  12. Great presentation. Let's be thankful that they are doing this work. It's so easy for people to comment here. Listen up and learn something.

  13. 3:00 she just implied that the mom should keep her kids in a house infested with rats 😂 no dude she’s not fit nor have means to have the kids at that point

  14. She says take race out out of it but this was all about race, specifically one color vs a second color – as if there are only two colors.

  15. "When a race has a history with a different race, many hold that history against them, even if they do things differently"
    And don't get me wrong… I love the idea, but imho changing 1 side of a coin doesn't automatically change the other one…

  16. Hey Ted. Anytime you want to talk about inequality come to my job and I'll show you all the minority people that got promoted not because of their skill but because the color of their skin.
    I'm so tired of this race-baiting it's so old already.

  17. I hate the ppl that come into your house to take your kids or see if your kids are alright because 99% of the time they are wrong

  18. Interesting "solution" but these social workers seem to forget why most kids that come from disfunctional families are black. Welfare is the problem that keep the poor poor.

  19. Race wouldn't be in the equation if people like you stopped going on about it. Fat people are discriminated against, ginger people are discriminated against, ugly people ate discriminated against more than black people nowadays. Go fight for them if you've got nothing better to do, which you apparently don't.

    And seriously ted, you're going downhill fast

  20. There's probably a lot more white kids who aren't in foster care who should be, because of this bias. You always hear so many stories about people being horribly abused and the system doing nothing. Everyone I've ever heard of was white.

  21. So the first part take race out but then put it back in. Hmmm 🤔 I'm not American nor am I a social worker but I have a feeling there's a bunch of facts left out of this presentation.

  22. Words won’t do any more.


    My name is Eight Billion,

    I contain an angel and a devil struggling inside,

    The face I dress varies to survive,

    Always hungry for power, never enough to content,

    I look for “inner peace” whilst consumed by grudge,

    For sons, for daughters, for the self, please be advised, there long existed the new code, aside,

    Let’s consider having an appointment with the best stylist for a change,

    Experience, how exceptionally would you look better reflecting the best,

    Thus, if you manage to change yourself, repenting for good,

    The place called Earth might turn into Heaven, I assure,

    It is me, it is you, it is us will power to CHANGE.
    Listen to the voice of the Noble Quran.
    "So whoever does an atom's weight of good will see it, And whoever does an atom's weight of evil will see it." (The Noble Quran. Surah Al Zalzalah Verse 7-8)
    By time, Indeed, mankind is in loss, Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience. (Surah Al Asr)

    -And do not confer favor to acquire more (Surah Al Muddaththir. Verse 6)

    -And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], "uff," and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. (Surah Al Isra Verse 23)
    French :



  23. I was thinking 'oh god' when she mentioned subconscious racist bias but that was actually quite a pertinent well put forward (perhaps proven) example. And most importantly a beginning of a solution.

  24. And what if i imagined they were white? You lose me at the point you ask that question. You lose half of the people you want to speak to. Not a good approach. and whats with the rats? lol weird way to spin your arguments.

  25. But how does this prove abuse?

    1) Not all families can afford mattresses for every child
    2) Not descriptive enough to say whether the parent smokes next to the children, they could smoke outside and bring the ashtray back inside with them
    3) Drinking isn't illegal as long as the kids don't do it. No description stating how the parents treat the kids.
    4) At least there are traps for the rodents, rather than letting them run loose in squalor
    5) Still needs to go shopping for food / not enough food stamps, govt's fault

    It just sounds like a poverty ridden area.

  26. Wow, black children are so lucky to be taken from their abusive and neglectful parents more often.
    We need to stop this discrimination against white children. It is unacceptable to leave them in unsuitable environments that would not be acceptable for black children.

  27. You are the only one biased, asking for favouritism because of your color, your argument, magic racism you cannot perceive, hint its magic because its not real, its fake, you want that to be true

  28. This sounds like it's right out of the Progressive / Liberal playbook… Always kick a minority while they're down! Our Liberal Progressive sect of America really are the most vile group around.

  29. There are serious questions that need to be addressed and from my experience, they are not touched because of the threat of being perceived as "wrong". If a person lives in poverty, should they have multiple children? Is free birth control, contraception, and pregnancy prevention education available? These are "right" questions! I would like to read some feedback.

  30. Way to many thumbs down, everything she says is true, and can be demonstrated with statistics. All this is saying, is to keep things unnecessary to the case, like race or neighborhood, out of it to assure a more objective decision that is closer to the better interests of the children involved.

    Is the mere mention of race offensive to some people?

    This also means that white children are less likely to stay in truly dangerous situations because of the impression of that race. It goes both ways.

  31. 3:05 Yes. All children deserve to live in a home that is not infested with rats. If the mother did her best and failed to care for her children, that's sad.

    All people should have the opportunity to be employed at a fair wage. The state should provide a social safety net and decent housing for those who need it. But when these things don't happen, it's not about what the mother "deserves", as if her pride is more important than other people's lives. It's about ensuring the well-being of the children. Leaving children in a rat-ridden slum with someone who cannot provide for them would be worse than breaking up a family.

  32. Americans have given up on the principles of reason and democracy. You are too lazy to work on improving your shortcomings and so hand over your agency to a computer. If you lack agency, you're not a real person. You are not raising the lower class up, you are turning yourselves into cattle.

    Instead of letting algorithms judge the poor, let them judge the management and political classes. Turn the country into a meritocracy by removing from office those who are actually responsible for harm and promoting those who make things better.

  33. The idea of blind removal is a great idea! Race should have no impact on weather or not the state decides if a parent/parents aren't worthy of having kids and takes them away.

  34. Issue with this is it’s that every dark skinned person I know forcefully put race into the equation Neither I nor any of my white friends have

  35. We all know people have drugs and guns no matter what their ethnic background is, but it is fairly well stated in statistics that some ethnic backgrounds are more heavily dependent on illicit activity than others. Regardless of how this came to be, when a family is deemed dangerous it will have to do with where their income comes from, and what that means for the childrens environment, and if statistics show that one ethnic group is more violent then it doesnt sound "wrong" if these ethnic groups are more often deemed unfit to raise children.

  36. The comment section is proof that you can give the Trump Supporters/White Nationalists/Racists exactly what they ask for; a constructive argument that doesn't rely on race, and they still hate it when you have a black person talk about it.

  37. Amazing discovery and a great story! I don't think I could ever do this job simply because I feel like my heart would break seeing some people live in such poor conditions. And to add on top of that the fact that I would be biased and separate the family just because of the race… That is even worse.

    But having a friend who works in child services, she is sometimes so angry with the system that has many flaws, such as deciding to not take children out of horrible families because there is not enough evidence.

  38. Take the human element out the equation and leave it to some "isolated govt bureaucrat, college indoctrinate's" decision. Bad idea!

  39. This is pretty excellent. This system could potentially shift the entire landscape of welfare and race-based poverty.
    A really good idea.

  40. While sounding reasonable, it appears that have such a "blind removal" review would entail eliminating so much information that the board would be making a far less informed decision. Consider — there could be no pictures of children to judge their physical well-being, no pictures of the home that showed anything suggestive of race, no description of the neighborhood so you couldn't consider whether the neighbor is a pimp or a lawyer, etc.

  41. This Blind Removal Meeting system sounds a lot like a trial by jury. You've got your case worker who examines the evidence and has rules for deciding what evidence is presented, and the committee who makes a recommendation based only on that evidence that follows the rules. It's worked for centuries, and they've found a way to apply it to their situation. Even better, they found a way to do it without lawyers!

  42. How daft is our society that a blind removal is a revolutionary idea rather than the common sense that should have been in place from the beginning.

  43. If you take out neighborhoods, you should question whether that is reasonable. All data points to blacks self segregating and building high crime low skill environments. Clearly, it's in the interest of the child, the actual intent of the intevention and long term integration to see more black kids in foster homes.

  44. Sound to me like she has VERY poor judgement. Bring 4 children into this world and have no way to support them .
    Then you run your mouth about bias . I don't give a damn if the woman is black or white or whatever . Keep your legs together until you find a partner that loves you and help support the children you conceive.

  45. Maybe because blacks and Hispanics are draining us of our public funds because they abuse the system. I would be more lenient with whites too when they aren't leeching like crazy

  46. What if we take care of the children that need help now but we educate these children that when they get older not to have children if they can’t support them. Don’t have children out of wedlock. If your a man and have children stay with them and support them. Don’t count on the government to give you things. A ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You started out talking about helping black children and never mentioned that we have to stop the circle that keeps repeating.

  47. In Australia we have the opposite problem… Aboriginal kids get removed far later and experience far worse abuse before they are removed into care. It's almost like we bend over backwards to avoid racism, and this ends up allowing kids to be even more traumatised.

  48. 3:05 "Does that mother deserve to have her children taken from her?" THE ANSWER IS YES! Stop reproducing if you are too much of a failure of a human being to take care of your kids then you shouldn't have any!

  49. Does blind removal prevent people to judge based on previous offense and therefore don't take into account the cumulative abuse? Race is not automatically the cause of everything.

    "Race is a concept that was INVENTED to categorize the perceived biological, social and cultural differences between human groups," said Harvard professor Evelynn Hammonds. "Race is a human invention."
    Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

  51. Removing race out of the equation ? Sure, good idea. But the neighborhood ? How is that irrelevant ? When I grew up, my parents let my brother and I wander alone unsupervised for kilometers around the house.

    Had we lived in a sketchy neighborhood instead of the country, the behaviour would have been irresponsible instead of being good parenting. The neighborhood can mean everything. Considering how parents should behave.

  52. Her example does not take racial biases out of the equation because the worker who goes into the home still has biases, and those biases will come through in the report unless there is an intense training that instructs workers how to write or give a report that contains only facts and nothing else But I do think it's a very good start.

  53. "I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.
    In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries,
    that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they
    provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the
    contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.
    There is no country in the world where so many provisions are
    established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are
    sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many
    alms-houses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general
    law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the
    support of the poor. Under all these obligations, are our poor modest,
    humble, and thankful; and do they use their best endeavours to maintain
    themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burthen? On the contrary, I
    affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more
    idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent. The day you passed that act,
    you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to
    industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on
    somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for
    support in age or sickness. In short, you offered a premium for the
    encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had
    its effect in the increase of poverty."

    -Ben Franklin

  54. Yes 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 “Let’s create a system that wants to make families stronger instead of pulling them apart”

  55. I was thinking how she didn’t talk about relying on welfare and what not
    But the blind evaluation was a good idea.
    But why she slip in AI all of a sudden, I love earth but man I just trust humanity with AI. ( it could just be movies and video game that put this fear in me but.. anything possible) plus the more technology and automation the less jobs.

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