Title

Implicit Bias in Child Welfare: Overcoming Intent Note

Authors

Rakesh Beniwal

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Albert Einstein said that "[we can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. " In spite of the wisdom of this quote, the field of child protection attempts to do just that-often couching seemingly new initiatives within old business methods and ways of thinking. The result is a system that disparately impacts people of color at every stage of child protection intervention. To be sure, the system recognizes that these disproportionate numbers exist. But what child protection agencies fail to appreciate is the impact that implicit bias has upon these outcomes. The failure to fidly recognize this precursor to disproportionality has the unintended effect of endorsing it. What is more is that child protection is a field that implicates a fundamental rightperhaps the most basic of all fundamental rights-the right to raise one's children. This Note recognizes the incongruity that arises when a system is permitted to exist that disparately impacts a fundamental right along racial lines. When state actions threaten such important rights, the intent requirement traditionally required to make out a constitutional disparate impact claim should be waived. By acknowledging that child protection engages in constitutionally suspect disparate impact, the seeds for new ways of thinking about the problems in child protection will be sown.

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