Disproportionality Perception, Prejudice or Some of Both?

Disproportionality Perception, Prejudice or Some of Both?

By Joe Starkey

 

 

 

The second meeting of the Taylor County Advisory Board to address Disproportionality in CPS met on a stormy Monday night. If you didn’t come on time – you would have had a large amount of difficulty getting there at all. The statistics and the figures were available at this meeting, CPS spent a considerable amount of time helping us understand the problems. {{more}} Mr. Otis Dalton stated that CPS understood when it invited the community in that “When the community engages, SYSTEMS CHANGE” and CPS was willing to make those changes. Ms. Bit Witaker, CPS Regional Director told those present that “this is a heart thing and it is a mind thing. We have to open both to understand the problem and develop solutions that work for all.”Mr. Pervis Evans presented the current findings of CPS. They have not found a bias in the risk factors for the family or that the race of the investigator plays a role in the higher number of Afro-American children being reported, being taken from their homes and kept in the CPS System. Their findings do show that black children are reported more by percentage but he could not tell if this is done by one race of teachers more than others. All parties agreed that they did not want a tightening of the reporting policies; they mainly wanted to see if there was education that could be done to have the reporters better understand why they were seeing what they perceived. The importance of perception in prejudice cannot be overlooked. The person who believes that another is prejudiced can seldom tell if the prejudice is real or perceived. To that person, however, there is no difference and even actions that are positive can be seen as discrimination. Prejudice exists and will until all understand each person must be judged by their actions and not anything else. Mr. Petty Hunter and I saw two sides of integration. He was part of a push that moved him from one football team to another. I was part of the pull where New Mexico coaches, slow at integration, saw they needed black players to remain competitive . Both right, both not seeing all that went on and both going on to other parts of life.One part of the current study that needs more information is the noticeable difference between the Hispanic children report as abuse violations and the number placed in foster homes. Perception is that the extended Hispanic families are stepping in to remove their children from the system before placement in foster homes. Questions were raised as to “if so, why and why not the same for black children?” One of the ministers present wanted to know if there was a way to get the churches involved from the start of the process.Ms. Sheila Craig, CPS State Disproportionality Manager presented the meeting with the idea “that CPS is airing their dirty laundry on the streets because they understand the system was not working and community needs to be involved.” She also wanted everyone to understand that all of CPS is state mandated and funded. There are discretionary funds. No transfer of funds from one project to another is possible. The Kinship fund was established to give kinship family who take a child or children in a onetime $1,000.00 payment regardless of number of children taken to help with beds, clothing, etc. This compares with monthly payments made to foster homes per child for as long as the child is in that home. The committee agreed to explore this difference in support to enable more family members to take in children.The Role of the committee is to form a partnership with CPS, establish avenues of cooperation, share knowledge of community as to resources available. In order for that to continue, it was recommended that all who wanted to continue to take part in the committee undergo “Undoing Racism Training” so there is understanding and a common use of terminology by all.All are welcome to come to the meetings. Many of those present have agreed to be on the committee. Only those that can have an effect on disporprotionality will be added to the committee. Contact Mr. Hunter, Mr. Dalton or CPS if you are interested.