Broader Array of Programs and Services Needed for Tribal Communities and Communities of Color

Children and families of color are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system. The Family First Prevention Services Act offers an opportunity to address these inequities with evidence-based programs and services, but includes few culturally specific ones in its Clearinghouse. Culturally specific programs and services consider the role of race and culture as integral to developing solutions to challenges families face. In this brief, Chapin Hall policy staff offer an overview of 10 culturally specific and two culturally responsive programs and services designed by tribal communities and communities of color and the evidence for each.

What We Did

Chapin Hall identified well-known clearinghouses that conducted systematic reviews of programs and services applicable to child welfare populations. Project staff conducted a search of each clearinghouse to identify programs and services designed to improve child and family outcomes. Search criteria included children and families as target populations, program-level details (such as demographics and outcome measures), and evidence ratings. Programs and services represented an array of approaches to developing and implementing evidence-based preventive child welfare interventions. They included explicit information about race and ethnicity and impact in at least one of three desired FFPSA Outcomes (for example, parent mental health, parent substance abuse, and parenting skills). Chapin Hall reviewed all available research studies and rated each program and service on a continuum of evidence based on research strength and readiness for clearinghouse review.

What We Found

All of the culturally specific programs and services reviewed were uniquely designed for people of color and sought to impact one of four target outcomes: child safety, child permanency, child well-being, and family well-being. We found that seven of the programs and services likely achieved the Prevention Services Clearinghouse eligibility standards for review. One program had some evidence, but not enough to meet the Prevention Services Clearinghouse eligibility standards. Four programs did not have sufficient evidence to meet Prevention Services Clearinghouse eligibility standards; they will need additional studies to generate evidence of their effectiveness.

What It Means

Given the disproportionate involvement of tribal communities and communities of color in child welfare systems, there should be a broader array of programs and services that address their needs. In addition, these programs should be delivered to communities by people of color who have shared experience.  This review suggests that more resources should be devoted to building the evidence base and effectiveness of culturally specific interventions. This may include developing supportive partnerships between program developers and researchers; funding to generate rigorous, reliable, and valid evidence of intervention effectiveness; and build capacity among developers; and hosting convenings to continue promoting awareness.

Recommended Citation
O'Brien, J., Evans, J., Heaton, L., Hyland, S., & Weiner, D. (2021). Elevating culturally specific evidence-based practices. Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.

Download the brief