Expert Joyce James Addresses ACS RECC CommitteeOn December 5, 2013, Joyce James, a national expert in the field of racial equity and cultural competency, spoke to the ACS Racial Equity and Cultural Competence Committee on her work in Texas as well as with other child welfare systems nationwide.
Ms. James presented data which showed that in 2007-2009, African Americans were twice as likely to have poor outcomes in every system, including child welfare, when compared to Hispanics and whites. To improve outcomes for all children, the Texas Department of Family & Protective Services implemented the Texas Model which was based on 1) Data Driven Strategies; 2) Leadership Development; 3) Development of a Culturally Competent Workforce; 4) Community Engagement; 5) Cross Systems Collaborations; 6) Training Defined by Anti-Racist Principles; 7) and an Understanding of the History of Institutional Racism and the Impact on Poor Communities and Communities of Color. This led to a decrease in removal rates of children.
Following her presentation, there was a spirited discussion with RECC members moderated by RECC Co-Chairs Alan Sputz, Deputy Commissioner of Family Court Legal Services, and Sandra Killett, Executive Director of Child Welfare Organizing Project on racial equity and disproportionality in child welfare in New York. Ms. James said it was important that staff at every level are aware of their roles in contributing to the advancement of racial equity in their work. At the same time, she noted, leadership should allow staff the confidence to share freely about inequities they encounter in their work so that it can be effectively addressed.
Ms. James, who began her career 33 years ago as a Child Protective Services Caseworker, held various leadership positions including Deputy Commissioner, Texas Department of Family & Protective Services, before being appointed as the Associate Deputy Executive Commissioner for the Center for Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities (CEDD) in Texas. Under her leadership, Texas became the first state to establish legislation requiring Child Protective Specialist to confront disproportionality, resulting in development of the Texas Model for addressing disproportionality and disparities. The creation of the CEDD was one of the measures adopted by Texas as a way of addressing disproportionality and disparities.