Addressing Racial Inequity

Hospitals' policies and practices vary widely regarding the testing of newborns for evidence of substance exposure, with few using universal screening. Substance use disorders affect gestational parents across all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups and geographic settings. Screening based solely on social or behavioral factors can lead to missed cases and may add to stereotyping and stigma.

The Plan of Safe Care initiative collects data on hospital reporting practices to understand when clinicians choose to screen and test for substance exposure and when they are referring families to Child Protective Services. By cross-referencing aggregate racial and demographic data with screening, testing, and CPS referral numbers, DCYF can direct anti-bias training to targeted hospitals and support policy that standardizes screening, testing, and referral practices.