Ethnic/racial matching of clients and social workers in public child welfare


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



Children and Youth Services Review




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Social Work

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor