Developing Our inSIGHT on Implicit Racial Bias

The Alliance for Racial Equity, is an initiative of CSSP that was formed 15 years ago to provide national leadership in support of improved outcomes for children and families of color involved in the nation’s child welfare system. The Alliance works with dedicated partners nationwide to eradicate systemic bias and inequity within child welfare that lead to disproportionality and disparities. The October 2017 Alliance Convening, Threats and Opportunities to Racial Justice in Child Welfare, marked an early milestone for innovation and collaboration towards improving child protection outcomes: the design and creation of inSIGHT: A Workshop on Implicit Racial Bias for Child Protection. CSSP developed this workshop in partnership with The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, in consultation with an advisory group consisting of members of the Alliance and other partners, and with generous support from our partners at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. inSIGHT is a course that combines the use of virtual training modules and an in-person, full-day workshop to empower child protection workers and supervisors with the knowledge and skills necessary to identify and address implicit racial bias in investigation and decision-making practices.

In collaboration with Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, a long-standing member of the Alliance, CSSP worked closely with the Cabinet’s Department of Community based Services (DCBS) in Warren County/Bowling Green to conduct the first pilot of inSIGHT in February 2019. Warren County social workers, supervisors, (Two Rivers) regional staff attendance comprised the group of 25 who completed Kirwan’s virtual modules at their own pace prior to the workshop—foundational work required prior to the workshop—and in the workshop, which honed in on developing skills and strategies for identifying, responding to, and mitigating implicit racial bias within the early stages of the child welfare process.

Some feedback from the participants includes:[1]

  • All (100%) participants shared that this workshop led them to examine how implicit racial bias creates unintended outcomes.
  • All (100%) participants shared they can now explain how disparities and disproportionality in child protection outcomes may be related to implicit racial bias.
  • All (100%) participants expressed that they walked away from the training with strategies to overcome racial biases.
  • The overwhelming majority (95%) of participants said they can describe interpersonal and institutional strategies for recognizing implicit racial bias and its impact on relationships.

CSSP will incorporate lessons learned from the pilot so that the curriculum can be finalized and offered to other jurisdictions in the future. We are also continuing our partnership with The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity to finalize the online modules.

We are excited to formally offer this workshop—which can be customized for the context of a jurisdiction—within the next few months. If you are interested in learning more about the pilot experience or would like to explore whether this training would be of value for your agency, please contact Leonard Burton.

[1] Statements are based on responses to a feedback form distributed to participants at the completion of the in-person workshop.


Erika Feinman is a Program & Research Assistant at CSSP.