Budget and Finance can impact the public child welfare agency’s priority of eliminating disparities
and reducing disproportionality. This function can direct, leverage, and maximize agency resources
to help meet the agency’s identified needs. For instance, an agency can choose to direct resources
to deal with an “environmental disparity”, or disparity occurring within the workplace. The budget
document conveys the agency’s strategic direction of addressing the issue.
The budget and finance function should include frontline staff and management at all levels in the
budget process as a strategy for eliminating disparities and reducing disproportionality.
Participation from a broad group of individuals and diverse perspectives in budget and finance
activities on this issue promotes inclusion, creative problem solving and transparency. An agency’s
decision to address issues of disparities and disproportionality using budget and finance resources
can help an agency demonstrate and communicate its commitment to providing equitable treatment and
service delivery investments. Put another way, it helps the community see that the agency can move
beyond rhetoric and act on the issue.
Budget and finance plays a role in both defining issues of disparities and examining its long-term
impact. For instance, an agency may first have to allocate resources to the area of research in
order to collect the baseline data that helps define whether or not the agency has an issue at all.
Regarding long-term impact, if the agency identifies disparities as an issue and has dedicated
resources toward it, the budget and finance function can conduct return on investment analyses and
analyze these data to consider how groups of people are receiving services in relation to other
groups. The analyses conducted can also be used to understand the cost effectiveness of service
delivery and can lend itself to redirecting resources if needed.
Public child welfare agencies should be reminded that addressing the issue of disparities and
disproportionality cannot be solved overnight and that seeing a return on investment may not be
immediate or evident for years to come. Therefore, budget and
finance initiatives that address disparity will have to carefully examine data to get a sense of
what is effective or not, and why.