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A Critique of Measures that Assess Community Efforts to Reduce Disproportionality and Disparities in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Agencies

JHHSA, Vol. 33 No. 3, (2010)

I was asked to review an article written for this special issue by Brad Richardson and Dennette Derezotes about efforts in the state of Iowa to reduce disproportionality and disparities in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. The article focused on the use of three measures to facilitate reduction of the proportion of Native Americans in these two systems and to communicate the effects of interventions on the problem: the Disproportionality Diagnositc Tool (DDT), the Race Equity Scorecard, and the Ecomap of community organizations and their impact on Native American families. While the article revealed some improvement in the way the juvenile justice agency handled minority youth and short term effects of disproportionality reduction efforts in child welfare, the article was not maximally informative for other states, regions, counties and tribes who wish to replicate their efforts. In this critique, I will point out some of the key shortcomings of the method used and of each measure and offer some additional ideas to improve methodological and measurement issues in this area of addressing disproportionality/disparities in large systems.

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