Susan Abrams, CLC’s policy and training director, spoke with The Imprint about AB 656, a bill aimed at addressing rampant racial disparities in California’s child welfare system.
AB 656, a bill aimed at addressing rampant racial disparities in California’s child welfare system by removing information on the race of children when critical decisions about their lives are being decided will not advance in the state Legislature this year.
Introduced by Los Angeles Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D), Assembly Bill 656 would have created pilot projects in child welfare agencies in five counties. Under a process known as “blind removals,” social workers deciding whether to remove a child from home following allegations of abuse or neglect would deliberate the circumstances of their case without knowing the family’s race or other identifying information that could lead to bias.
“Over the past year, the death of George Floyd and other police killings of Black people have brought a sharper focus on long-standing issues of racial inequity in the child welfare system, she said, and the state should gather more evidence about whether removing biased decision-making could be an effective way to address disparities.
“This is precisely why we need a pilot — to allow for thoughtful planning, bold action and essential data collection, analysis and evaluation,” Abrams wrote in an email. “The equally important values of child safety, strengthening families and dismantling structural racism can and should co-exist within our child welfare system.”