Public Policy can help public child welfare agencies formulate and garner support and resources for
eliminating disparities and reducing disproportionality. This guidance limits the term “public
policy” to describe how an agency’s policies or a full policy agenda provides legal governance and
parameters for how the agency will eliminate disparities, including who will lead the effort, the
activities to undertake, which resources will be used to accomplish the activities, and in many
cases, how the intended effort will be measured.
In the case of disparity and disproportionality, a policy development effort can be helpful in
bringing all relevant stakeholders to the table. When developing policies on this matter, agencies
should make the effort to develop policies that are well thought out and vetted with a broad
stakeholder group to encourage a sound product. The effort of inclusion also helps to minimize
contention that may arise from a narrowly developed policy that yields limited or possibly even
unintended poor outcomes for children, youth and families.
There are some immediate, positive impacts to creating policies that address disparities and
disproportionality. Inequities can arise when cases are handled without standard protocols or
decision-making. Policies can be tremendously helpful in spelling out acceptable or standardized
behaviors and outlining appropriate actions. Well-articulated policy helps agency personnel
understand the logic of the policy and enhances compliance with it.
Policy can also provide a strong basis for evaluation and research on whether current policy
efforts to address disparity and disproportionality are effective and to what degree, if at all. These findings help agency leaders modify and improve future efforts.