Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Dr. Katherine Novak


Systemic racism leads to Black people being overrepresented in sectors of life such as poverty, homelessness, and incarceration. However, because of this same systemic racism, Black children in the United States are subjected to disadvantages in many aspects of life— one of which is foster care. Children raced as Black are two and a half times more likely than white children to be reported to Child Protective Services resulting in them entering the foster care system twice as often as white children (Miller, Cahn, and Orellana 2012). While past studies have examined the number of children in foster care that belong to each racial group and found that there are disparities, few studies have examined what leads to the disparities. The purpose of the current study was to explore the understanding of these disparities and the potential factors producing them through the eyes of those making foster care placement decisions. Seven in-depth interviews were conducted with professionals that have or are currently working within the foster care system of Indiana. Each interview explored the participant’s role within the foster care system, their perception of race relations within their current (and/or former) agencies, and explored their understanding of existing racial disparities within the foster care system. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed for common themes amongst the various professionals as to what— according to their own experiences— contributes to the racial disparities Black children experience within the foster care system. What was found was that professionals feel privilege, education, systemic issues, lack of time or resources, and bad apples contribute to the racial disparities within the system.