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Faculty & Staff, Research, Community Impact

CFRC Director Tamara Fuller Appointed by Governor Pritzker to Serve on Advisory Commission

January 24, 2023

african american child drawing at desk

Reducing the Disproportionate Representation of African American Children in Foster Care

Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) Director Tamara Fuller was recently appointed by Governor J.B. Pritzker to sit on the Advisory Commission on Reducing the Disproportionate Representation of African American Children in Foster Care. This Advisory Commission, created through legislative mandate, will advise Governor Pritzker, the General Assembly, and work directly with State agencies to identify the factors that contribute to the over-representation of African American children in foster care. The Advisory Commission will also collaborate with State agencies and other social services organizations to develop effective strategies, policies, services, and programs that are aimed at providing African American children and their families with the resources and preventive services they need to avoid entry into the child welfare system.

Within the Advisory Commission, Dr. Fuller is a member of the sub-committee that is focused on examining DCFS services to impact prevention and reduce the length of stay for African American children in foster care. As part of her role on the Advisory Commission, Dr. Fuller has presented findings from the Children and Family Research Center’s annual report that examines racial disproportionality in the Illinois child welfare system at six critical decision points. The presentation and the full report are available on the CFRC website.

In addition to her work on the Advisory Commission, Dr. Fuller is leading the CFRC’s efforts on a new project that aims to provide a more nuanced understanding of racial inequities within the Illinois child welfare system. House Bill 2914 was passed in 2021 and requires the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to produce an annual report that examines disproportionality among racial groups on numerous parts of the child welfare system including investigations, protective custodies, court screenings, entries into foster care, length of time spent in foster care, and exits to reunification, adoption, and guardianship. The results of this report, which are due in December of each year, will be used by DCFS and the legislators who sponsored the bill to pinpoint specific areas where disproportionality is greatest and develop targeted interventions to reduce them. The inaugural report is available on the CFRC website.

Dr. Fuller was also appointed to the Steering Committee on the Bias-Free Child Removal Pilot Program. Members of the Steering Committee are tasked with developing and implementing a 3-year Bias-Free Removal Pilot Program that will “promote unbiased decision making in the child removal process, while maintaining the safety of children and reducing risk, with the goal of decreasing the over-representation of Black children in out-of-home placements. This goal would be achieved by convening a group of senior-level internal staff members from the Department of Children and Family Services who are from an area other than the pilot area to (i) review removal decisions, absent specific demographic information and (ii) determine whether removal of a child is necessary to avoid imminent risk to the child’s safety, health, and well-being” (P.A. 102-1087). The Steering Committee began meeting in January 2023 and will develop the pilot program by January 1, 2024. In addition to serving on the Steering Committee, Dr. Fuller will lead the CFRC in developing and implementing an evaluation of the Bias-Free Child Removal Program.

“The Children and Family Research Center is committed to using our research and evaluation findings to advance racial equity within the child welfare system,” said Dr. Fuller. “Interest in our work on disproportionality has significantly increased in the past two years, and there is a new sense of urgency to advance the work forward in meaningful ways. The CFRC stands ready to work in partnership with policy-makers, agency staff, and community members to eradicate systemic bias and ensure that equitable policies and practices are in place that allow all children, youth, and families to thrive.”

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