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Title:A mixed method examination of racial disproportionalities among youth who cross over from the child welfare to the juvenile justice system: child welfare and juvenile justice professionals' perspectives and racial attitudes
Author(s):Marshall, Jane
Director of Research:Haight, Wendy L.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Haight, Wendy L.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Neville, Helen A.; Ryan, Joseph P.; Carter-Black, Janet
Department / Program:School of Social Work
Discipline:Social Work
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):child welfare system
juvenile justice system
dual systems youth
crossover youth
racial identity development
racial disproportionalities
mixed methods
Abstract:This dissertation uses a mixed method approach to examine why African-American youth are disproportionately represented in those who cross over from involvement in the child welfare to the juvenile justice system. During individual, semi-structured, audio-recorded interviews, 33 experienced child welfare, law enforcement and court professionals first described their perspectives on why youth cross over from the child welfare to the juvenile justice system, in general, and then described reasons for racial disproportionalities in crossing over. Next, they communicated their racial sensitivity and awareness through assessments of racial colorblind ideologies (Neville et al., 2000) and racial identity (Worrell & Vandiver, 2010). Specific research questions are: 1) How do professionals understand and explain the disproportionate crossing over? 2) How racially sensitive and aware are these professionals? 3) Is there a relation between professionals’ interpretations of disproportionate crossing over and their racial sensitivity and awareness? Professionals described a variety of interrelated reason for crossing over at the youth, parent/family and larger social systems levels. These reasons included: poverty, education, and emotional and behavioral problems at the levels of youth, their parents and family, and larger social systems. Twenty-seven percent of the sample spontaneously discussed race as a contributor to crossing over. When asked about racial disproportionalities, professionals described the interaction of reasons youth generally cross over with race. They also described several unique risk factors for black youth: 1) distrust of authorities resulting, in part, from racial socialization practices beginning in the home, 2) communication breakdown between African Americans and authorities, and 3) structural racism in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Quantitative results on professionals’ group differences on racial sensitivity and awareness suggest that black professionals and child welfare professionals are less colorblind and identify more as racialized Americans than as non-racialized Americans, compared to white professionals and law enforcement professionals, who are more colorblind and identify more as non-racialized Americans than as racialized Americans. Results also indicate an interaction between race and profession. Specifically, whites who worked in the child welfare system or the courts identified more as non-racialized American, while blacks who worked in the child welfare system or the courts identified more as racialized American. There were no differences in racial identity between black and white law enforcement professionals. Results also suggest a relationship exists between professionals’ perspectives of disproportionalities and their racial sensitivity and awareness. Specifically, professionals who were less colorblind and identified more as racialized Americans placed more weight on macro and system level factors that may contribute to disproportionalities among crossover youth and less weight on child and parent/family level contributors. Those who were more colorblind and saw themselves more as American, rather than a black or white American, placed greater emphasis on reasons for disproportionalities at the level of the child and parent/family. Results are interpreted from the perspective of ecological systems and critical race theories. Professionals’ perspectives on racial disproportionalities and their racial attitudes may serve as a reference point for how they might carry out their work with diverse youth and families. Patterns of results may be reflective of different lived experiences of black and white professionals, as well as professional socialization within (or self-selection into) particular occupations. Results raise issues for supporting relationships in youth’s environment between youth, families, and authorities. Through professional training initiatives on culturally responsive practices, enhanced community outreach by professionals, and dialogue among professionals from different disciplines as well as with civilians, relationships between authorities and families of color may be enhanced. Once these relationships are strengthened, racial disproportionalities may then diminish.
Issue Date:2013-02-03
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Jane Marie Marshall
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-02-03
Date Deposited:2012-12

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