SAN ANTONIO – Throughout the child welfare sector, experts say children of color have worse outcomes in the system when it comes to placement and adoption.
“There’s something wrong within the system that’s causing these children of color to be removed more often and not placed,” said Sherri Y. Simmons-Horton, a researcher and University of Texas at San Antonio professor.
Simmons, who sits on the Texas Advisory Committee on Promoting Adoption of Minority Children, said in Bexar County, Hispanic children wait the longest for adoption, followed closely by Black children.
The extreme disparities have experts like Simmons reviewing parts of the system in desperate need of change.
“How decisions are made from the bench, how decisions are made when we’re doing a removal, how decisions are made when we’re matching families -- it becomes those very individual decisions that start to add up,” Simmons said.
She believes a big factor has to do with beefing up kinship programs that prioritize placing removed children with relatives or people connected to the family, like a step-parent or godparent.
“Right now, the State of Texas has done a really great job of engaging with kinship programs reducing disparities for Black and Hispanic children,” Simmons said. “It was only around 2007 that they started providing structured resources to relatives and kinship families who would be able to take children if they have the resource support they need -- resource for school clothes, beds, those types of things.”
Still, disparities remain widespread.