from abuse and/or neglect along with the trauma from removal from their parents, which often
impacts their emotional and behavioral presentation in school, affecting their performance. 30
Hopefully, improving educational stability will address the disparity in foster youth’s educational
performance leading to improvement in their overall life circumstances as adults.
Historically, African American youth have been overrepresented in the child welfare
system in the United States. African American foster children make up roughly 24.3% of foster
youth in the U.S. while African Americans only constitute 13.8% of the total child population. 31
In contrast, white children make up about 51.9% of the total child population but account for
approximately 43.4% of the children in foster care. 32 While the percentage of African American
foster youth is undeniably lower than the percentage of white youth in foster care, this still amounts
to a disproportionate representation in the child welfare system when analyzing the overall child
population. 33 However, it should be noted that recent research differs from the historical
understanding of this overrepresentation being a result of racial bias in the child welfare system.
Rather, it suggests that this disproportionate representation is due to higher rates of child
maltreatment in the black community, which itself signifies a need to further research and
understand the catalyst for this difference based upon race. 34
Furthermore, African American youth face a number of inequalities during their
involvement with the child welfare system. They suffer higher rates of poor academic performance
and high school dropouts, higher grade retention, and even higher rates of suspension when
compared to white foster youth. 35 African American youth also tend to experience longer stays in
the child welfare system, which often leads to several changes in foster care placements. 36 The
increased likelihood of placement changes ultimately results in a higher number of school
transfers, which has been found to negatively impact academic achievement. 37 Therefore, African
American foster youth are arguably one of the most vulnerable subgroups of an already
marginalized youth population.
Specifically, Maryland had approximately 3,777 children in foster care in 2016.38
Approximately 2,095 children in foster care in Maryland were African American compared to only
roughly 1,083 white foster youth. 39 Thus, in Maryland, African American children make up more
than half of the population of children in foster care. Further, in 2016 there was about 568,312
white children in Maryland, which is about 42% of the total child population. 40 In contrast, the
total number of African American children is roughly 416,534, amounting to 31% of the child
population. 41 This is a disproportionate representation of African American youth when compared
to white youth in foster care, even when these numbers are compared to the child population
30 Fostering Success in Education, supra note 24, at 6-7.
31 Children´s Bureau, Racial Disproportionality and Disparity in Child Welfare, CHILD WELFARE INFORMATION
GATEWAY 1, 3 (Nov. 2016), https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/racial_disproportionality.pdf.
34 Sandles & Magdeleno, supra note 5, at 3.
38 The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children in Foster Care by Race and Hispanic Origin, KIDS COUNT DATA CTR.
40 The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Child Population by Race, KIDS COUNT DATA CTR. (2017),