Evaluation of Family Preservation and Reunification Programs: Final Report - Volume Two. 8. The Staff Questionnaire

An important aspect of program implementation and service delivery is the characteristics of the program staff. In their detailed description of the Homebuilders Model, Kinney, Haapala, and Booth (1991) note the difficulty in recruiting and maintaining qualified counselors to staff the family preservation programs. While the authors present their "first choice" applicant as "someone with a masters degree in social services, with a cognitive-behavioral theoretical background, and several years' experience working with families," they also note that "gender, age, race, marital status, parenthood, educational field, and degree have not been correlated with effectiveness on the job." Besides individual characteristics, Kinney, Haapala, and Booth encourage the selection of staff who share similar values, attitudes, and styles, cautioning that "if staff have large differences in how they view clients, it is likely they will differ about other agency policies, procedures, and ways they wish to relate to each other and to the community."

In this study, caseworkers in both public and family preservation agencies completed a self-administered questionnaire in which they were asked about a variety of job-related items, including their experience, qualifications, training, job satisfaction, preparation for dealing with casework issues, and attitudes toward clients and services.

Table 8-1 shows the number of completed questionnaires for each state and agency, separated by whether or not the respondent had a case in the study and by whether or not the respondent was considered to be case level staff. A respondent was considered case level staff if he or she reported carrying cases. (108) This summary focuses only on those case-level staff who carried a case in this study, with response rates ranging from 75 percent in Tennessee and 76 percent in New Jersey to 91 percent in Kentucky. Data on staff in Philadelphia are presented in a separate section as both family preservation and traditional services were provided by private agency staff and some workers carried cases from both random assignment groups.

Table 8-1
Counts for Completed Staff Questionnaires

Type of position & agency

Does this respondent have a case in the study?
Kentucky New Jersey Tennessee Philadelphiaa
No Yes No Yes No Yes No Yes
Case level staff
Public agency 39 159 136 199 6 37 35 139
FPS agency 4 18 -- 29 1 17 В 
"Other" staff
Public agency 34 19 99 29 5 2 25 12
FPS agency 3 -- 2 6 1 2 В 
Number of completed questionnaires 80 196 237 263 13 61 60 151
Number of questionnaires mailed out to staff who have a case in the study В  215 В  344 В  81 В  334
Response rate for staff with a case in the study В  91% В  76% В  75% В  63%
a Philadelphia respondents are not categorized according to FPS or Public Agency status. Both FPS and traditional (SCOH) services were provided by private agency staff and some workers were responsible for both types of cases.

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