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Building a Community Committed to Equity

Thursday March 31, 2022

This year marks the 45th Anniversary of the founding of the National Association of Counsel for Children. A nonprofit anniversary offers a time for celebration, and a perch from which to reflect on the past, assess the present, and set a course for the future.

NACC’s founders didn’t seek to build an office or an institution, but instead a profession and a network of colleagues that would serve children and advance the development of children’s law. Our profession has come a long way since the 1970s. NACC’s programs and influence have grown, as has our support for access to well-trained counsel for all parties in the child welfare system. NACC will recognize advances in access to justice and in the development of our field throughout this anniversary year.

But NACC will also recognize the many ways our profession, policies, and systems have yet to actualize access to justice for all whom we serve. A recent study of foster care data from 1961 to 2018 shows long-term inequities among children of different races and ethnicities, particular by region and state.[1] Inequity does not begin in the child welfare system,[2] but it is routinely exacerbated by it:

…children’s experience of living without parents under state supervision remains deeply divided by race, ethnicity, and geography. Because foster care has negative long-term causal effects at the margin of placement, and because state actors intervene disproportionately in marginalized families, inequality in this childhood experience is likely to contribute to stratification throughout the life course.[3]

As child welfare attorneys, we are placed at this precipice, positioned with power and responsibility. We cannot come into this profession to “help” and ignore the reality that many children and youth will face lifelong societal inequity from their foster care experience. Anti-racism strategies must be integrated into our daily practice to disrupt these negative outcomes. NACC’s Race Equity Hub is a great place to begin this work.

NACC is engaged in a refresh of our 2019-2023 Strategic Plan, to center our commitment to equity and constituent voice. Thank you to many of you who participated in our community survey to identify opportunities to help us identify concrete strategies to operationalize this commitment through practice and policy. We look forward to sharing more with you about this work in the coming months and year.

Thank you for your partnership in building a community committed to equity.

[1] Alexander F. Roehrkasse; Long-Term Trends and Ethnoracial Inequality in U.S. Foster Care: A Research Note. Demography 1 October 2021; 58 (5): 2009–2017. Available at:

[2] Minoff, Elisa and Alexandra Citrin. “Systemically Neglected: How Racism Structures Public Systems to Produce Child Neglect.” Center for the Study of Social Policy, March 2022. Available at:

[3] Roehrkasse, supra (internal references omitted).

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