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Disproportionality Conference held in Abilene

By Joe Starkey



The Child Protective Services defines disproportionality as the over representation of a race or cultural group in a particular program or system. This has been documented for decades, nationwide in different programs such as child protective services, special education services, juvenile justice and the criminal justice system. In Texas, African American children {{more}} spend significantly more time in foster care, are less likely to be reunified with their families and wait longer for adoption that Anglo or Hispanic children.Representative Susan King was asked to comment first. She is on the state legislative committee that deals with human services and CPS. She introduced her committee as the one that deals with all the things that one wants to do or deal with. She opened by stating that CPS is getting growing and getting better. “We need to Break the Cycle. There is a path of CPS to crime/prison and then the children of those people going down the same path.” Abilene is the largest city in Texas without court assisted protection advocates to help break this cycle and is the center of the area with the largest geographical region and smallest population.NAACP President Petty Hunter remarked that the NAACP gets many complaints about the CPS that blacks are treated differently and that CPS is a terrifying institution to many. One father literally dug a hold and hid for over a year but the fact is that CPS offers many types of help.Mrs. Bit Whittaker, local director talked of the many reforms she has seen in her 28 years. 5 years ago the state legislature recognized that they were not providing enough money, staff and resources and have gotten better the last two years. One problem is institutional racism where the institution does not intend to be racist but in following their rules designed for the good of all children fail to recognize the cultural needs and effects on the family and children of those rules. This is being addressed and hopefully the rules will fit the child and not make the child fit the rules.Problems causing disproportionality include Poverty, Single Parent and Cultural insensitivity. Reverend Kelly summed up the night with “It is not the question of why this is happening but we need to identify What is Happening and decide how to intervene.The group will meet again. If interested, contact CPS or Mr. Petty Hunter at the NAACP office.

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