Focus Policy Blog


Racial Disparities in Michigan’s Foster Care System

A recent report by the Michigan Race Equity Coalition in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice discusses racial disparities in the Michigan adoption system. Children of color enter into the foster care system at a higher rate due to abuse and neglect (1.3 times more than white children). Children of color also more likely to age out of the foster care system and not return to their families. Of the 13,000 children in Michigan’s foster care in 2013, minority children are 2.1 times more likely to age out of the foster care system.  Broken down by race, black children are 2.3 times more likely, American Indian children are 1.4 times more likely, and Hispanic kids were 1.1 times more likely to have to leave the foster care system because of their age.  Also, black children live with families that are investigated for abuse or neglect at a rate 1.6 times higher than white children.

Key suggestions from the report are as follows:

  • Continue to increase the number of foster care workers
  • Increase the level of assistance available to foster care students who are in college or who are working until they reach 21
  • Improve data collection and increase data-driven decisions for improvement
  • Increase funding to improve measures to prevent foster care neglect and abuse

Patrice Garnette, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, The George Washington University Law School