Poverty and race play into state child welfare system

31 05 2011

By Kyle Kim

Editors note: the story was originally published for the May 10 print issue of The Whitworthian. You can access both the issue and online edition here.

Native American children represent 7 percent of Washington State’s child population and are roughly five times more likely to be victims of abuse or neglect compared to white children, according to data from Child Protective Services. Statewide, Native American children are three times more likely to be referred to child welfare than their white counterparts.

Census figures show the city of Spokane alone holds the eighth-largest Native American population in the nation.

Alaska native Tara Dowd, who grew up in Washington’s child welfare system for most of her early life, said there’s a saying among foster kids: those who make it out call each other alumni.

“An alumni means you’ve earned something,” Dowd said. “I’ve lost more than I’ve gained in the child welfare system.”
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