Disparity and Disproportionality

Public Policy

Public Policy can help public child welfare agencies formulate and garner support and resources for 

eliminating disparities and reducing disproportionality. This guidance limits the term “public 

policy” to describe how an agency’s policies or a full policy agenda provides legal governance and 

parameters for how the agency will eliminate disparities, including who will lead the effort, the 

activities to undertake, which resources will be used to accomplish the activities, and in many 

cases, how the intended effort will be measured.

 

In the case of disparity and disproportionality, a policy development effort can be helpful in 

bringing all relevant stakeholders to the table. When developing policies on this matter, agencies 

should make the effort to develop policies that are well thought out and vetted with a broad 

stakeholder group to encourage a sound product. The effort of inclusion also helps to minimize 

contention that may arise from a narrowly developed policy that yields limited or possibly even 

unintended poor outcomes for children, youth and families.

 

There are some immediate, positive impacts to creating policies that address disparities and 

disproportionality. Inequities can arise when cases are handled without standard protocols or 

decision-making. Policies can be tremendously helpful in spelling out acceptable or standardized 

behaviors and outlining appropriate actions. Well-articulated policy helps agency personnel 

understand the logic of the policy and enhances compliance with it.

 

Policy can also provide a strong basis for evaluation and research on whether current policy 

efforts to address disparity and disproportionality are effective and to what degree, if at all. These findings help agency leaders modify and improve future efforts.

 






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