Seattle program struggled, closed

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The child welfare system of King County, Wash., was once viewed as a model for its Office of African-American Children's Services, designed to reduce racial disparities in the local foster population.

But that office, opened in 2003, closed in 2008 after a federal civil-rights investigation determined that legally, the state could not transfer children into separate programs because of their race, according to the Seattle Times. A new office replaced it, serving children of all races residing in certain ZIP codes.

Supporters of the old office told the Seattle Times that while the program had good intentions, it struggled with large caseloads and staff turnover. According to the Seattle Times, the office's caseworkers also made serious mistakes handling referrals.

It was not the first time efforts to better child welfare for minority children proved disappointing. A 2007 New York Times investigation about a two-decade-long movement there to support minority-led foster care agencies found that many of the agencies had troubling practices and poor outcomes.

"We did little to change foster care," Luis Medina, who ran one of the agencies, told the newspaper.

-- Vivian Nereim


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