Goal- Reduce Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Congregate Care: Implement culturally competent community-based programs to bring minority youth back to a supportive community.

Data shows that youth of color are treated differently and more severely and are more likely to be incarcerated or placed out of home. These discrepancies can be attributed to a number of things including poverty, institutional racism, outdated policies and lack of cultural training for staff.

One very direct way to eliminate the disparity and reduce the number of institutionalized youth of color is to implement programs that prioritize hiring culturally competent staff. Staff who grew up in and live in the youth’s communities are familiar with the challenges and strengths of the community and are far more likely to relate and connect to the youth. Community-based programs that have culturally competent staff on their front lines must be positioned as an alternative on the front end to detention, state correctional facilities and residential treatment. In addition, services should be placed on the back end when minority youth are returning home from facilities.

Providing these alternatives on the front and back end to institutions can dramatically lower admissions to out-of-home placements and recidivism. There must be a commitment from all sectors of the community to ensure that there are appropriate alternatives to out-of-home placement of youth of color including: Law Enforcement, Judges, Prosecutors, Public Defenders, Probation, Schools, Non-Profits and Child Welfare. All community stakeholders must be aware of available community-based programs and have the ability to access these programs and expand and create more as needed.