98 Children’s Legal Rights Journal [Vol. 39: 1 2019]
Maryland has struggled with a significant overrepresentation of African American youth
in the foster care system, having a nearly two-to-one ratio of black children to white children. 102
As discussed previously, all foster youth, regardless of race, are at greater risk for poor educational
outcomes as a result of their unique circumstances as foster youth. Maryland has also struggled to
address the educational achievement gap among African American youth and white youth in
general. 103 Further, the intersection of the African American foster care experience and striving
for educational success requires a comprehensive review of how implementation of recently
enacted federal laws discussed above can improve future outcomes for this subset of vulnerable
youth. Utilizing critical race theory in this analysis is very relevant, as the intersection of these
issues involves both legal application and analysis, as well as analysis of the education and child
Many scholars have used CRT analysis to advocate for transformation across both the legal
and education systems, as well as among other disciplines. 104 Although CRT first developed within
the legal system, it has been applied in the education system to examine issues like school
discipline and IQ, and achievement testing. 105 Furthermore, CRT has been used to dissect the
overall problem of inequity in the education system, especially for African Americans. 106 Gloria
Ladson-Billings and William F. Tate, IV are two scholars undertaking this analysis in education
and assert that racism is deeply rooted in American society and is thus inevitably present in the
education arena. 107 Civil rights laws enacted to redress inequity in education in practice rarely
achieve that goal, and often result in unintended consequences that reinforce the power structure. 108
As a result of this, the importance of using individuals’ stories of their experiences of inequality is
even more essential to this discourse to demonstrate discrimination within the system. 109
Moreover, one of the first tenets of CRT proposes that racism is ordinary and commonplace
in American society. It therefore permeates every system, making it difficult to eradicate. 110 This
common thread that gives rise to multi-disciplinary application from the legal system to the
education system and others is also applicable to the child welfare system. Historically, African
American children comprise an overwhelming number of youth in the child welfare system, and
“[t]he overrepresentation of children of color within the foster system reflects in part the higher
rates of poverty that impact populations of color, the criminalization of both men and women of
color, and racialized stereotypes of parental unfitness.” 111 Furthermore, a recent report notes that
African American youth are two times as likely to have poor outcomes across the education and
child welfare systems, as well as in other systems serving children and families. 112 Thus, in light
102 CHILDREN’S DEFENSE FUND, THE STATE OF AMERICA’S CHILDREN 1, 66 (2017).
103 Id. at 57-62.
104 DELGADO & STEFANCIC, supra note 6, at 2-3.
106 Gloria Ladson-Billings & William F. Tate, IV, Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education, 87 TEACHER’S C.
REC. 1, 47, 55-58 (1995).
112 American Institute for Research, Improving Outcomes for African-American Males in the Child Welfare System:
Meeting Summary 1, 7 (2013) [hereinafter American Institute for Research].