Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) administration announced Tuesday it would create a commission to study “systemic racism” in foster care.
Fox 2 reported:
The task force is a response to the “overrepresentation of children of color in the child protection system” which reflects a need for “fundamental system change.”
According to a press release issued by MDHHS (Michigan Department of Health and Human Services), Black children make up 29% of the state’s foster care population, despite being only 16% of the state’s total population. The disparity is evident among children of other minority races as well.“The over-representation of children of color in foster care in Michigan is unacceptable and demands a fundamental change in our system,” said Tommy Stallworth, who has been assigned the task force and currently leads the state’s coronavirus disparities task force.
The committee’s formation comes after Whitmer alleged health care professionals were racist in how they treated coronavirus patients. State health officials have echoed that sentiment.
“As well-intentioned as we are, our current system perpetuates injustices and keeps us from meeting our core values,” said JooYeun Chang, executive director of the Children’s Services Agency at MDHHS.
“This is primarily driven by systemic issues and we must therefore acknowledge and then address systemic racism and bias wherever it exists.”
The commission will review “the effectiveness of strategies that can reduce the racial disparity in the foster home system,” as well as “Oversee the rollout of effective strategies that reduce disparities and potentially harmful investigations of Black families,” according to the news station.
In August, Whitmer declared racism a “public health crisis,” the Detroit News reported.
“We must confront systemic racism head on so we can create a more equitable and just Michigan,” Whitmer said in a statement.
“This is not about one party or person. I hope we can continue to work towards building a more inclusive and unbiased state that works for everyone.”
According to the paper, “African-American individuals have made up about 27% of the confirmed cases in Michigan and 39% of the deaths, despite making up 14% of the state’s population,” state data said.
Whitmer also ordered “all existing state employees to complete implicit bias training.”