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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 15, 2006

UI Center Supports Statewide Conference On Racial Disparities

The fifth annual statewide conference on the problem of the disproportionate numbers of minority youth in Iowa's juvenile justice and child welfare systems will be held Thursday and Friday Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at the Downtown Holiday Inn in Des Moines. The event, "Investing in Iowa's Youth, Investing in Iowa's Future-Chapter 5: Exploring linkages, Listening to Youth," will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 30 and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 1.

Organized by the University of Iowa School of Social Work's DMC Resource Center, which is part of the National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice, the conference includes presentations from state and national leaders who will address a number of issues related to juvenile justice, child welfare, education and family and human services needs.

"Over-representation of minority youth in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems is a significant problem nationally, as well as in Iowa," said Brad Richardson, a research scientist in the UI School of Social Work and director of the center. "In addition to the DMC Resource Center's focus on the over-representation of minority youth detained or confined in secure detention facilities, secure correctional facilities, jails and lock ups, this year we are also paying special attention to linkages with child welfare and school systems. Recently we have found that minority students are also over-represented in school suspensions and being suspended from school correlates with involvement in the juvenile justice system."

With increased input from youth, including presentations from a variety of youth perspectives, this year's conference will examine the issues, explore potential solutions, and facilitate learning about current efforts to address the problems. The conference received an Iowa Promise Momentum Plus Award from the UI Office of the Provost and Office of the Vice President for Research, which will support additional youth participants as well as some of the national speakers who will attend.

Speakers include Shay Bilchik, executive director of the Child Welfare League of America; Karl Dennis, one of the country's leading experts and pioneers of community-based care for the hardest to serve children and families, including Wraparound services; and Dorothy Roberts, law professor at Northwestern University and author of the award-winning "Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare." More information about conference speakers is available online:

In recent years, the conference has garnered attention from groups around the country seeking to replicate Iowa's statewide collaborative approach to addressing this vital issue.

Funding for the conference comes from the Iowa Department of Human Rights, Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning, Iowa Department of Human Services, the UI School of Social Work, UI Office of the Provost, and UI Office of the Vice President for Research.

The DMC Resource Center serves statewide and community efforts to reduce the over-representation of minority youth in the juvenile justice system. Working with the Department of Human Services the Resource Center is also working to reduce over-representation in the child welfare system.

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

CONTACTS: Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,; Program: Brad Richardson, 319-335-4924