Understanding disproportionality: exploring cultural competency and racial bias among child welfare workers in San Joaquin County

Disproportionality is complicated; however, it is imperative that the social work community thoroughly investigate all possible causes. This researcher surveyed the worker’ self- evaluation of their cultural awareness and racial bias concerning Black families. The study utilized three hypothetical case vignettes in which the researcher asked participants how they would respond to each case. Each case vignette included a series of scenarios that contained certain risk predictors. Black children are often removed from their homes at a higher rate due to the perception of higher maltreatment (Roberts, 2002). Demographic information was examined and used to see if there were any variation of cultural competency or practice depending on the social worker’s background, experience, licensure, and degree. The researcher found the majority of participants rated themselves high in cultural competency. Most perceive they do not have racial biases towards Blacks and their families, yet overall many presented biases based on extended family support and age. Participants’ demographic information did not show any variation in decision making. Most participants were likely to make the referral substantiated when any type of drug was apparent in the scenario. Data from those workers who participated in the study were analyzed and discussed and given to the division chief over the San Joaquin County Disproportionality Committee.