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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 11, 2004

Conference To Address Racial Disparities In Justice, Welfare Systems

Social workers, attorneys, police officers, educators and other professionals and community members will gather in Des Moines for two days next month to discuss the over-representation of minorities in confinement and in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.

The State DMC Resource Center at the University of Iowa is sponsoring its Third Annual Statewide Conference, titled "Investing in Iowa's Youth, Investing in Iowa's Future," on Thursday, Dec. 2, and Friday, Dec. 3, at the Downtown Holiday Inn in Des Moines. To register for the conference, visit

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who has supported the statewide effort to help communities address over-representation of minority youth in the criminal and welfare systems, is scheduled to give a talk during the conference.

"A third of Iowa youth held in juvenile detention facilities are minority even though they make up only nine percent of the state's youth population," Vilsack said. "This is an issue that we need to address."

Over-representation is also evident in the child welfare system, a topic that will also be explored at the conference. Shay Bilchik, executive director of the Child Welfare League of America, will provide the opening keynote address, discussing the links between over-representation in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

The DMC Resource Center is a project of the UI School of Social Work's National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice. The School of Social Work is in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

This year's statewide conference will showcase best practices and policy-based solutions from around the country. 

DMC Coordinator Brad Richardson said that with an expanded program that includes the Iowa Juvenile Court Services Association and nationally known speakers discussing their successes and challenges, more participants are expected this year than last, when the conference attracted 250 participants.

Conference participants will increase their knowledge about cultural competency and diversity as well as acquire tools for developing effective risk assessment and alternatives to confinement. Some of the notable conference speakers include: Heidi Hsia from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Planning, Washington, D.C.; Lynn McDonald, author of the program Families and Schools Together; Terry Cross, executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association; Jon McCaine, vice president of Youth Services International in Tucson, Ariz.; and Bart Lubow from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Questions about the DMC Resource Center, the state's DMC effort or the conference should be directed to Brad Richardson by mail at 100 Oakdale Campus, W206 OH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242; by phone at 319-335-4965; or by email at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Media: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007,; Program: Brad Richardson, 319-335-4965,