Racial disproportionality is defined as the over-representation of children of color in the child welfare system, compared to their numbers in the population. Racial disproportionality occurs across the United States in all social welfare systems. Disproportionality is a national problem. Children of color and their families who become involved with child welfare systems often experience disparate treatment and may have fewer service opportunities than their white peers.

Although abuse and neglect do not occur at higher rates for children of color compared to white children, they are more likely to be the subjects of allegations and referrals than their Caucasian counterparts. Moreover they enter child welfare systems at higher rates, remain in care for longer periods of time, are less likely to be placed in adoptive homes, and experience poorer outcomes than other children.