Report Reveals Vast Racial Disparity in N.J. Foster Care System

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Black children in New Jersey are more likely to enter foster care than any other group of children in the state.
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An estimated 400,000 children in are in the U.S. foster care system. According to the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, children of color are disproportionately represented in the system in more than half of states.

New Jersey is one of those states—on any given month there are approximately 7,000 kids in foster care, and about three in five are black or Hispanic. 

New Jersey Public Radio (NJPR) analyzed data on the 25,713 children who entered foster care in the state between 2009 and 2013, examining each child’s race and ethnicity and the reasons why their parents lost custody—whether the harm to the child was neglect, abuse, inadequate housing, drugs or any other factor. NJPR's research shows there are no differences in the rates of drug use between African American and white families.

Their investigation revealed that black children are more than four times as likely as white children to enter foster care in New Jersey. In 2013:

  • Black children made up just 14 percent of the child population in New Jersey, but 41 percent of those entering foster care.
  • White children accounted for 49 percent of the child population in the state and just 31 percent of the foster care population.
  • Hispanic children are slightly under-represented in foster care, accounting for 24 percent of the child population in the state and 22 percent of those entering foster care.

Sarah Gonzalez, a reporter for WNYC and New Jersey Public Radio, spearheaded this investigation. She joins The Takeaway to explain what she uncovered.

Check out an infographic demonstrating the racial disparities in the New Jersey foster care system below, and read part I and part II of Sarah's full report.