An Exploration of Bias in Arizona’s Foster and Adoption Agencies

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The Arizona state child welfare system has recently experienced an increase in the number of children and youth living in out-of-home care. A lack of licensed foster homes has resulted

The Arizona state child welfare system has recently experienced an increase in the number of children and youth living in out-of-home care. A lack of licensed foster homes has resulted in many of these children residing in congregate care. This study sought to determine what role, if any, personal and policy bias against five demographic groups (i.e., ethnicity, sexual orientation, marital status for individuals and couples, and educational level) plays in this insufficiency of foster homes. In this pilot study a group of foster and adoption licensing agency executives and directors (n=5) were surveyed and qualitatively interviewed with the aim of discerning if bias is present at the personal and agency policy levels and to seek input for a future study with direct-service staff. Results indicate a discrepancy between personal and policy bias within agencies. Additionally, evidence suggests a policy bias which results in unmarried couples and single parents being perceived as inferior placement options. Implications for future research are discussed.