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Workshop examines foster care

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Child Advocates and the Marion Superior Court's Juvenile Division are hosting a workshop this week in Indianapolis to examine why more African-American children are in the county's foster care than other races.

"Courts Catalyzing Change" will look for answers as to why African-American children are over-represented in foster care by nearly two times their percentage in the population. The conference will bring together Marion County stakeholders involved with child welfare to help them recognize how implicit bias can occur within the system, how it can promote "perception of risk," and how to better serve the children currently in foster care.

The goal is a system in which a child of color has no greater likelihood of entering or staying in foster care than any other child, said Cindy Booth, executive director of Child Advocates, an agency of court-appointed special advocates that represents abused and neglected children in Marion County.

The workshop kicks off tonight with a presentation by Dr. Rita Cameron Wedding, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Women's Studies and professor of Ethnic Studies at California State University Sacramento. Speakers Thursday and Friday include Wedding, Marion Juvenile Judge Marilyn Moores, and James Bell, founder and executive director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute in San Francisco.

The workshop is sponsored by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges; Indiana Court Improvement Program; Indiana Department of Child Services; Marion Superior Court, Juvenile Division; and Child Advocates.

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