Department for Community Based Services

Standards of Practice Online Manual

4.1 Consideration of Race and Ethnicity/Maintaining Cultural Connections

Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Department for Community Based Services
Division of Protection and Permanency
Standards of Practice Online Manual
Chapter 4-Out of Home Care Services (OOHC)
4.1 Consideration of Race and Ethnicity/Maintaining Cultural Connections

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Legal Authority/Introduction



The Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 as amended by the Interethnic Adoption Provisions of 1996 requires states to make efforts to recruit a diverse group of resource parents that match the demographic of their population of OOHC children.  However, the law prohibits states from delaying or denying placement based solely on race, color, or national origin of the foster parents or the child. 

Agencies may not require a certain period of time to search for a same race placement if an appropriate transracial placement is available when the child's need for placement arises.  Nor may the agency routinely permit same-race placements while requiring caseworkers to specially justify a transracial placement.  If no appropriate placement options are immediately available, the agency may conduct a search, but the search cannot be limited to same-race prospective parents except in those rare circumstances where the child has a specific and demonstrable need for a same-race placement.

While consideration of race and ethnicity are important, consideration of a child’s cultural background is equally paramount.  The Cabinet strives to ensure that a child’s well-being is maintained throughout his/her stay in out of home care and this begins with being sensitive not only to a child’s race and ethnicity, but also to individual family culture.  Culture encompasses many aspects of life and can be individualized to a family or a specific area of the state.  It is important to acknowledge a child’s culture and assist the child in preserving their family’s cultural background while in out of home care.     


The SSW: 

  1. Assesses culture, defined or observed by the family members and community partners; 1
  2. Assesses the needs of children, biological families and caregivers for cultural issues that will need to be addressed to maintain connections to a child’s culture;
  3. Considers race or ethnicity in selecting a foster or adoptive home for a child only in rare circumstances when:
    1. The special or distinctive needs of a child require it; and
    2. Those needs can be documented or substantiated;
  4. Consults with the Service Region Administrator (SRA) or designee, through supervisory channels, regarding the needs related to race, color, or national origin of the child;
  5. Documents discussion of:
    1. The risk of harm of delaying placement;
    2. The ability of a prospective foster or adoptive parent who does not share the child’s racial or ethnic background to meet the special needs;
    3. The child’s other important needs; and
    4. Conformity to the provisions of the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act (MEPA);
  6. Consults with the FSOS or designee regarding concerns related to the Multiethnic Placement Act and Interethnic Adoption Provisions (MEPA-IEPA) for purposes of:
    1. Removing barriers to permanency for children in the child protective system;
    2. Ensuring that adoption or foster placements are not delayed or denied based on race; color or national origin; and
    3. Ensuring that the cultural needs of a child are met, but not assuming that needs can only be met by a racially or ethnically matched parent;
  7. Uses positive aspects of the family’s culture to motivate behavior changes;
  8. Notifies the private child caring (PCC) or child placing (PCP) agency, when a child is placed in this setting, to inform the agency that the child meets special circumstances for cultural exemptions (i.e. cutting the child's hair).


  1. Researches the procedures with a central office specialist when questions arise concerning culture, race or ethnicity.

Practice Guidance

  • Children who are not US citizens and become involved with the agency, may be eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status and may be permitted to apply for a green card, if:  
    • The child is placed under the legal custody of the state or other individual appointed by the state (i.e. relatives);
    • The child cannot be reunited with one or both parents due to abuse, abandonment or neglect; and
    • It is not in the child’s best interests to be returned to his/her country of citizenship. 
  • If a child is eligible for SIJ status, the SSW should assist the child in obtaining his/her green card.  The United States Citizenship web page offers guidance on how to complete this task. 


  1. Culture consists of all the ideas, objects and ways of doing things in terms of describing the family’s entire way of life. 


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