Dr. Paul Elam Examines Unequal Treatment for African- American Children in Saginaw County

Dr. Paul Elam, a recognized expert in disproportionate minority contact in the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems, is PPA's lead researcher on the project.

Dr. Elam is joining with Saginaw County Community Mental Health, Courts, Department of Human Services and local Law Enforcement in the research. The project is supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Casey Family Programs, and the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

African American children are greatly overrepresented in Saginaw Child Welfare as well as Michigan and across the country. Data show that African-Americans are more likely to be investigated for abuse and or neglect and placed in the child welfare system, and they usually stay in the system longer. A significant percentage age out of the system and end up homeless or in prison.

The partnership is seeking additional funding to study the disproportionality and disparities and develop strategies for creating a safe and equitable child welfare system. The research will be used to inform decision-makers about effective strategies to improve the lives and futures for vulnerable children.

Public Policy Associates has done extensive research in child welfare system and in issues of disproportionality. In 2008-09, PPA provided the staff and wrote the report for the Michigan Child Welfare Improvement Task Force, which developed recommendations for improving the system, including those to reduce racial inequities. Dr. Elam was the project manager. He is currently the project director on an evaluation of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's investments in Michigan to improve the lives of children. The work will include an examination of grants through a racial-equity lens.

PPA is currently working with the Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice to analyze crime data to ensure that the state has a juvenile crime-reduction strategy that is data-driven and establishes priorities. The PPA research includes the study of over-representation of people of color in the juvenile justice system.