CLE Webinar on Racial Bias in Foster Care and Adoption

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Date(s) - 05/24/2022
9:00 AM - 12:15 PM


Attorney Education Course on Child Welfare Will Feature Black Activist Kelis Houston

May 6 2022

Black activist Kelis Houston will speak to attorneys about racial bias in child welfare cases.

Houston’s talk is part of Relative Foster Care and Adoption, a continuing legal education program that will educate attorneys about the disproportionate removal of Black and Indigenous children from their families. The course will also show attorneys how to advocate for relatives as placement options.

Houston chairs the NAACP Minnesota chapter’s child welfare committee. In addition, she is the founder and director of Village Arms, a nonprofit organization providing support and liaison services to Black families that are caught up in the child welfare system. For several years before then, she worked in social services and has been a guardian ad litem. In those roles, she acquired considerable first-hand knowledge of the racial injustices and deleterious impact on BIPOC families the child removal system has had. More recently, she has been doing grassroots lobbying for legislation aimed at preserving African American families.

Minnesota family law attorney Rhia Spears will provide practical legal guidance for attorneys who are interested in representing relatives/kin in child welfare cases, particularly at the post-permanency stage. Misty Coonce, director of the Minnesota foster/adoption agency Ampersand Families, will round out the program with an explanation of home studies and foster care licensing requirements.

The program is being hosted by Echion CLE, a relatively new continuing legal education provider that strives to address important topics that other CLE providers generally do not.

“Black children are placed in foster care about three times as often as White children are, Echion CLE Program Director Tom James said. “It is about 15 times as often for Indigenous children. Both the legislative and judicial branches in Minnesota have known about this disparity for years, but nothing much has been done about it.”

“With this program, we aim to launch a two-prong attack on the problem,” he said. “First, we intend to raise awareness of racial stereotypes among members of the legal profession. Second, we will offer training to attorneys to represent relatives in child welfare cases effectively.”

The course will be offered online on two different dates: May 24th and June 10th – from 9:00 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. CDT. The Minnesota Continuing Legal Education Board has approved it for 3.0 hours of CLE credit, including 1.0 hour of Elimination of Bias credit. CLE credit may also be claimed in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Wisconsin, and several other states.

More information is available at the Echion CLE website.

Tom James, Echion CLE Program director
Phone: 320 237-2711

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