4.1 Consideration of Race and Ethnicity/Maintaining Cultural Connections


​​​​​ The Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 as amended by the Interethnic Adoption Provisions of 1996 requires states to make efforts to recruit a diverse group of resource parents that match the demographic of their population of out-of-home care (OOHC) children. However, the law prohibits states from delaying or denying placement based solely on race, color, or national origin of the foster parents or the child.

Agencies may not require a certain period of time to search for a same-race placement if an appropriate transracial placement is available when the child's need for placement arises. Nor may the agency routinely permit same-race placements while requiring caseworkers to specially justify a transracial placement. If no appropriate placement options are immediately available, the agency may conduct a search, but the search cannot be limited to same-race prospective parents except in those rare circumstances where the child has a specific and demonstrable need for a same-race placement.

While consideration of race and ethnicity are important, consideration of a child’s cultural background is equally paramount. The Cabinet strives to ensure that a child’s well-being is maintained throughout his/her stay in out-of-home care and this begins with being sensitive not only to a child’s race and ethnicity but also to individual family culture. Culture encompasses many aspects of life and can be individualized to a family or a specific area of the state. It is important to acknowledge a child’s culture and assist the child in preserving their family’s cultural background while in out of home care.

Practice Guidance

​Children who are not United States (U.S.) citizens and become involved with the Department of Community Based Services (Department/DCBS) may be eligible for special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) status and may be permitted to apply for a permanent resident card if:

  1. ​The child is placed under the legal custody of the state or other individual appointed by the state, (i.e., relatives);
  2. The child cannot be reunited with one or both parents due to abuse, abandonment, or neglect; and 
  3. It is not in the child’s best interests to be reunited to his/her country of citizenship.
The US Citizenship Resource Center webpage​  and the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status-What Advocates Need to Know PowerPoint from Kentucky Refugee Ministries ​​​also provides guidance.


​​The SSW:
  1. ​Assesses the family’s culture, race, and ethnicity;
  2. Consults with an immigration attorney when a child not born in the U.S. cannot present a permanent resident card, also known as a green card.  This is completed to determine the child’s immigration status; 1
  3. Assists in obtaining the permanent resident card if a child in OOHC is eligible for SIJ status;
  4. Informs adoptive parents that adoption alone does not grant citizenship;
  5. Refers the biological family to community resources to assist them in addressing immigration needs; and
  6. May consult with the Office of Legal Services (OLS) or central office Division for Protection and Permanency (DPP) staff regarding the case or if staff experience any difficulty locating an immigration attorney.



  1. Kentucky Refugee Ministries may be contacted at 859-226-5661.  Staff may also request assistance from local community resources.​​​