Preparation and training for the experiment were conducted in the summer and early fall of 1996. Training sessions were held with both DYFS screeners and FPS program coordinators. During one-day training sessions, study procedures were reviewed including use of study forms, the screening protocol, random assignment procedures, and the role of the study site coordinator. There is some variation in the number of screeners, depending on the number of field offices in each county (Table 4-7).
|County||Number of DYFS Screeners||Number of DYFS Local Offices|
|a. The five screeners alternated as screeners for Essex County on particular days each week. There was also a supervisor assigned to the unit.
b. The Monmouth screener was stationed in the southern district office. The northern district office had a worker assigned as "gatekeeper" to screen cases and relay each referral to the screener.
In addition, meetings were conducted with self-selected groups of caseworkers and supervisors in each county prior to the start of random assignment. Study staff traveled to each county and met with public agency caseworkers, supervisors, and agency administrators as well as FPS workers and the administrator at each contracted private agency. Workers were very resistant to random assignment and concerned that it would deny service to families, cause extra tasks, and delays in referrals for their caseloads.
Two site coordinators were hired and assigned to assist DYFS and FPS staff with the collection of information needed to complete random assignment and the conducting of interviews. One site coordinator worked with the three northern counties (Essex, Bergen and Passaic) and the other worked with the four southern and central counties (Monmouth, Ocean, Camden and Burlington). Random assignment was initiated in late November 1996.