Travis County Child Welfare Race Equity Collaborative
The Child Welfare Race Equity Collaborative (CWREC) was founded in 2018 directly in response to data from the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) on Child Removals by Race and Ethnic Group* showing Travis County had disproportionate outcomes for African American children compared to Anglo children related to allegations of abuse and neglect, investigations by DFPS, and removals from their home at rates that are far above statewide figures.
*DFPS Rider Reports entitled "Child Removals by Race and Ethnic Group" were formerly entitled "Minority Child Removals."
In partnership with the the DFPS Disproportionality Manager, Casey Family Programs and with support from Mission Capital, the Travis County Model Court for Children and Families has partnered to create the CWREC so that professionals and the community can work side by side to acknowledge, assess, address, and collaborate on sustained long-term strategies to increase equitable outcomes and rectify the extraordinary disproportionality present in the Travis County child welfare system.
With a focus on racial inequities within the child welfare system, we will confront and acknowledge the racial disparities in our community through building awareness, providing education, advocacy and holding systems accountable for equitable practices and policies.
Assuring anti-racist work is prevalent throughout the Travis County community to end institutional racism and racial bias that has resulted in disproportionate outcomes for African American and Hispanic children.
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For more information contact: CWREC@traviscountycps.com
Mandatory Reporter Training:
Re-Imagining Professional Support for Families in Need
Data specific to Travis County indicates that the top reporters of concerns for abuse and/or neglect of children to DFPS has been made by professionals in Law Enforcement, Education, and the Medical field. These are professionals who report having cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected or may be abused or neglected, in accordance with the Texas Family Code Section 261.101(b).
Reports of concerns for abuse and/or neglect in Travis County have been between 16,000 to 19,000 reports each fiscal year. With data showing that African American children consistently account for approximately 18% of the reports made in Travis County when African American children are between 7-8% of the Travis County child population, the CWREC started work to create a Mandated Reporter Training that will include a race equity lens. This work has expanded into a statewide effort for a multidisciplinary reporter training that also includes education on the child welfare system, history of institutional inequities in each profession's engagement with the community, and tools for Mandated Supporting in circumstances that necessitate providing support rather than just a report.
Point of Removal Impact: Sustaining Continued Change
As the CWREC began its work in response to Fiscal Year 2017 DFPS data on disproportionality, recent data from Fiscal Year 2020 shows an impact at the point of removal. The rate of removal for previous years showed that African American children were 7.8 times more likely to be removed from their families than Anglo children and in Fiscal Year 2020, the index improved to show African American children now being 4.2 times more likely to be removed from their families than Anglo children.
However, even with the improved disparity index, the disproportionality in Travis County for African American children remains far above the state average and we know there is much work still to be done. The CWREC is encouraged by the impact that has been made but is now taking the next steps to continue the improved outcomes at the point of removal and sustain continued change.
Documenting & Tracking
The CWREC is a collaborative making intentional efforts to engage with the community to re-imagine child welfare in Travis County. A committee has been formed to document and track the work of the CWREC so that the blueprint for this form of community engagement can be shared and duplicated in other communities.
Data Sharing & Reporting
A standing committee within the CWREC meets regularly to collect and share data from partnering organizations, agencies, departments, and community efforts. The work of the CWREC is driven by collective data and each partnering organization is expected to contribute their data to educate and report to the CWREC and compare against other CWREC partners' similar data. With this sharing and reporting of data the CWREC is able to focus on a community-wide perspective of how and why the children and families in Travis County are impacted disproportionately.
CWREC Data Analysis & Mapping Report
This report uses data obtained from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) for Child Protective Services (CPS) involved families and children from 2018 to 2021 to demonstrate the urgent need for policymakers to collaborate and find better ways to support child and family well-being in Travis County. The data evaluation was conducted in partnership with cross-sector providers, community, parents/caregivers, and youth with lived experience. This approach successfully co-created space to humanize interested parties, understand and meet community needs, and harness our collective strengths for greater impact.
2023 Statewide Race Equity Convening
We have experienced the peaks and valleys of doing racial justice work in Texas. We must continue to put one foot in front of the other to re-imagine systems. We know that this work cannot be done in isolation or just in the Travis County community and this is why CWREC invited individuals and equity groups from across Texas to join us for a two-day convening in Austin, Texas.
Over these two days, the CWREC and community groups from all around Texas were joined by Corey B. Best and the Mining for Gold Team leading us on our journey "to become proficient at embracing the messiness and confines of organizing a path forward, to extract the essence of humanity, community, and social systems." We gathered to discover, learn, play, and move in rhythm with one another as we moved into transformational co-design and community organizing (the New way). We gathered to experience what is required for us to “nurture freedom dreams” of justice, liberation and belonging. We believe that co-creating is the key to making meaningful change. This is a journey and together we have started to use inquiry and imagination to navigate the “not knowing”, while discovering opportunities that reveal a commitment to try small things that get us closer to “real co-design” with families/community members. This work will continue and plans for a 2024 Convening have already begun!