Communities of Color in Multnomah County
The Coalition of Communities of Color approached Portland State University with a concern that existing data that informed decision making in Multnomah County inadequately captured the lived experiences of communities of color. They noted existing reports rarely included dimensions of race and ethnicity. Much research had been undertaken without the involvement of those most affected by the decisions guided by the research. The impact was that communities of color were rarely visible at the level of policy. Data was more often used to obscure and oppress rather than to empower communities and eliminate disparities.
The Coalition of Communities of Color took action to address this concern, partnering with Portland State University to produce a series of reports documenting the experiences of people of color in Multnomah County. "Communities of Color in Multnomah County: An Unsettling Profile" was the first in the series of reports. Six subsequent reports documented community-specific experiences of the African American, African immigrant and refugee, Asian/Pacific Islander, Latino, Native American and Slavic communities in Multnomah County. These reports are available from the Coalition of Communities of Color website.
Funding: Northwest Health Foundation, Multnomah County, City of Portland
The Oregon Governor's Task Force on Racial Equity in Child Welfare requested research support to study the extent to which children of color and children of Hispanic/Latino ethnicity were served equitably in the child welfare system. Using the Decision Point Analysis approach originally developed by Dr. William Feyerherm for juvenile justice settings, the team drew on administrative data to track disparities at each of seven key decision points, and then assembled focus groups of decision makers, community partners, and families involved in those decisions to interpret those data.
Administrative data showed that African American and American Indian/Alaskan Native children were likely to go more deeply into the system, move more often, and stay longer as compared to their Caucasian counterparts. Focus groups held across the state explained how people involved in and impacted by these decisions understood the decision making process and how they explained the differences. They recommended actions that could make a difference. As a result of these findings, the state child welfare agency engaged in a range of strategies to address institutional and individual bias in child welfare decision making.
Funding: Casey Family Programs