B. Domestic Violence and Disproportionality

The following information specifically addresses the intersection of disproportionality, child welfare, and domestic violence. For a discussion of disproportionality, please see the Disproportionality and Equity chapter of this Bench Book.

Within the child welfare system, the prevalence of poverty can lead to a disproportionate identification of poverty as neglect for African American families.[136] Poverty has a significant impact on survivor parents due to the isolation, coercion, and economic abuse they may experience. African American women experiencing domestic violence may be less likely than other women to be referred for domestic violence services, even though they are twice as likely to report severe physical violence than non-Hispanic white women.[137]

The child welfare system relies on other systems to help assess parents' abilities to care for and protect their children. The criminal justice and mental health systems are two of these systems, and families of color may experience disproportionate and disparate impacts[138] or be fearful of the impact of using these systems to assess their protectiveness. Regarding the criminal justice system, families of color may be reluctant to seeking such relief as calling law enforcement, requesting a protective order, or testifying against the perpetrator. The mental health system is especially connected to survivor parents involved in the child welfare system as mental health professionals are often asked to assess the mental health of survivor parents. Trauma survivors (both child and adult) experience a wide range of issues related to trauma exposure and may at times experience co-occurring mental health issues stemming from their experiences, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).