child welfare, social work, welfare, social workers


Although considerable debate exists throughout the human-service literature regarding the potential benefits and limitations associated with ethnic/racial matching of clients and workers, there are few studies that examine the prevalence of this practice with large representative samples. This study utilizes a secondary analysis of data collected from 4813 public-child-welfare workers throughout California. Using census data to control for county-specific population demographics, American-Indian, Hispanic/Latino(a), Caucasian, and Asian-American child-welfare workers are more than two times more likely to have caseloads with a high percentage of clients who match their race/ethnicity than workers self-identified as another race/ethnicity. African-American workers are 1.28 times more likely than other workers to have a caseload with a high proportion of African Americans. Findings suggest that the observed difference in likelihood of ethnic/racial matching with African-American workers compared with other ethnic groups is explained by an over representation of African Americans on public-child-welfare caseloads and/or under-representation of African Americans as public-child-welfare staff.

Original Publication Citation

Perry, R., & Limb, G. (2004). Ethnic/racial matching of clients and social workers in public child welfare. Children and Youth Services Review, 26(10), 965-979.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Children and Youth Services Review




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Social Work

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

Included in

Social Work Commons