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Children and Youth Services Review

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Child welfare, Foster children


While it has been well documented that racial and ethnic disparities exist for children of color in child welfare, the accuracy of the race and ethnicity information collected by agencies has not been examined, nor has the concordance of this information with youth self-report. This article addresses a major gap in the literature by examining 1) the racial and ethnic self-identification of youth in foster care, and the rate of agreement with child welfare and school categorizations; 2) the level of concordance between different agencies (school and child welfare); and 3) the stability of racial and ethnic self-identification among youth in foster care over time. Results reveal that almost 1 in 5 youth change their racial identification over a one-year period, high rates of discordance exist between the youth self-report of Native American, Hispanic and multiracial youth and how agencies categorize them, and a greater tendency for the child welfare system to classify a youth asWhite, as compared to school and youth themselves. Information fromthe study could be used to guide agencies towards amore youth-centered and flexible approach in regard to identifying, reporting and affirming youth's evolving racial and ethnic identity.


Copyright 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (



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