Evaluation of Family Preservation and Reunification Programs: Final Report - Volume Two. 8.1.5 Staff Views on Child Welfare and Family Service Issues


Caseworkers were asked to indicate their level of agreement or disagreement in response to a series of 10 statements expressing views on a number of child welfare and family service issues. For many of the statements, respondents' average levels of agreement were near the mid-point of the scale (2.5, where 1 = strong agreement and 4 = strong disagreement) indicating neither strong agreement nor disagreement on average. For two of the statements - both relating to risk - the average responses for both FPS and public agency staff in all three states were skewed more towards strong agreement. Those statements were: "It is never justified to take chances with the lives of children" and "If a child I left at home were seriously injured due to maltreatment, I would find it hard to forgive myself." In New Jersey, on the second of these statements, there was a significant difference between average responses of FPS and public agency staff. Although both groups indicated agreement, public agency staff indicated stronger agreement with this statement than did FPS staff (1.9 vs. 2.3; p = .05).

In two of the states, there was stronger disagreement by FPS staff (relative to public agency staff) in response to the statement "Child abuse and neglect are social problems driven by strong social forces to the extent that social work services cannot do much to save children from danger." Differences between FPS and public agency staff in response to this statement were significant in Kentucky (3.5 vs. 3.1; p = .05) and New Jersey (3.7 vs. 2.8; p = .001), with small, non-significant differences in Tennessee (3.7 vs. 3.6).

On the issue of referrals to family preservation services, FPS staff in all three states indicated a greater degree of agreement than public agency staff with the statement: "Only families with a child at imminent risk of placement should be referred to intensive family preservation services." These differences were statistically significant in Kentucky (1.5 for FPS and 2.7 for public staff; p = .001) and in New Jersey (2.2 for FPS and 2.8 for public staff; p = .001), and differences were in the same direction but not statistically significant in Tennessee (2.3 for FPS and 3.1 for public staff; p = .08).

In New Jersey, there were two other statements for which there were significant differences in average responses for FPS and public agency staff. Public agency staff indicated stronger disagreement than FPS staff with the statement "Removing a child from his or her parents can be so deep a trauma to the child that it is almost always worth taking the risk to leave the child with his or her parents" (3.3 for public staff and 3.0 for FPS; p = .04). On the other hand, FPS staff indicated stronger disagreement on average than public staff with "Families who deny the truth of a validated allegation of abuse or neglect are such poor prospects for service that placement is usually justified" (3.1 for FPS and 2.6 for public staff; p = .01).

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