Evaluation of Family Preservation and Reunification Programs: Interim Report. 7.1 Caseworker Activities

01/08/2001

Caretakers were asked to indicate whether the caseworker provided help with a number of specific problems. Table 7-1 shows the number of affirmative responses in each group.

Table 7-1.
Caretaker reports of caseworker activities, post-treatment interview
  Kentucky New Jersey Tennessee
C E   C E   C E  
% % p % % p % % p

Caseworker helped with money for rent-elect-phone

3 17 0.001 5 4   5 10  
Caseworker helped with money for other things 9 35 0.001 10 14   11 19  
Caseworker provided transportation 16 42 0.001 12 25 0.003 19 34 0.1
Caseworker discussed proper feeding of child 14 20   5 11 0.006 16 28  
Caseworker talked with you about discipline 35 55 0.001 39 60 0.001 46 70 0.01
Caseworker talked with you on relations with spouse 16 18   8 14 0.009 11 34 0.01
Caseworker helped you clean house 2 6   2 5   11 9  
Caseworker helped with painting/house repairs 1 1   1 1   5 1  
Caseworker discussed how to get childcare 15 18   15 1   14 24  
Caseworker helped with welfare/food Stamps 8 14   5 7   11 8  
Caseworker advised how to get medical care 12 16   14 13   22 20  
Caseworker talked with you how to handle anger 28 43 0.005 29 53 0.001 42 70 0.004
Caseworker advised you on substance abuse 3 7   11 12   11 18  
Caseworker discussed with you how to get a better place 11 15   12 6 0.06 11 19  
Caseworker advised on job training programs 9 19 0.009 7 10   8 16  
Caseworker talked about how to get a paying job 6 17 0.004 5 8   11 18  
Caseworker advised on how to continue school 9 18 0.04 5 8   14 23  
Caseworker arranged for some childcare 1 3   5 7   6 13  
Caseworker told you about other agencies 38 43   42 56 0.01 19 33  
Note: C = Control Group, E = Experimental Group

Kentucky. According to caretakers, the most common activities in which workers engaged were discussing discipline and anger management and telling caretakers about other agencies that offer services. On the 19 items on which caretakers were questioned, never did the control group workers reportedly engage in an activity more than the experimental group workers. In the primary analysis, for 7 of the 19 items, experimental group workers reportedly engaged in the activity significantly more often than control group workers (all at p = .01 or less). One additional item showed significant differences in the same direction at p = .05 or lower.1 A total count of the number of these 19 caseworker activities reported by caretakers also shows significant differences between the experimental and control groups. Caretakers in the experimental group reported an average of 3.9 caseworker activities (n = 148) while caretakers in the control group reported an average of 2.2 caseworker activities (n = 146) (p = .001).2 Caretakers were asked which of the caseworker activities were especially helpful. Experimental group caretakers judged significantly more activities to be helpful than did control group caretakers (1.7 vs. 1.0, p = .001). The services most often cited as helpful by experimental group caretakers were, in order, "the caseworker talked with you about discipline,"; "the caseworker talked with you about how to handle anger,"; "the caseworker told you about other agencies,"; and "the caseworker helped you with money for other things [other than rent, electricity, or phone]."; For control group caretakers the most often cited helpful items were "the caseworker told you about other agencies,"; "the caseworker talking with you about discipline,"; and "the caseworker talked with you about how to handle anger."

New Jersey. The most common activities of workers (according to the caretakers) were discussions of discipline and the handling of anger and referrals to other agencies. In the primary analysis, in 2 of the 19 items control group workers more often engaged in the activity (ignoring those items with 1% differences): discussing getting a better place to live (= .055) and discussing child care (not significant). For 4 of the 19 items, experimental group workers significantly more often engaged in the activity: discussion of discipline, transportation, discussion of how to handle anger, and discussion of other agencies. A fifth item, discussion of proper feeding of the child, was nearly significant at p = .06.

There were significant differences between the experimental and control groups in the average number of activities reported by caretakers, 3.25 for the experimental group (n = 210) and 2.31 for the control group (= 134) (p = .001).3 When asked which of these activities were especially helpful, experimental group respondents judged significantly more activities to be helpful than did the control group respondents (1.97 vs. 1.11, p = .0001). The items cited most often as helpful were remarkably similar to those in Kentucky. The services most often cited as helpful by experimental group caretakers were, in order, "the caseworker talked with you about discipline,"; "the caseworker talked with you about how to handle anger,"; "the caseworker told you about other agencies,"; "the caseworker provided transportation,"; and "the caseworker helped you with money for other things [other than rent, electricity, or phone]."; For control group caretakers the most often cited helpful items were exactly the same as in Kentucky: "the caseworker told you about other agencies,"; "the caseworker talking with you about discipline,"; and "the caseworker talked with you about how to handle anger.";

Tennessee. Activities most often engaged in were similar to those in Kentucky and New Jersey: talk about discipline and talk about handling of anger. In 15 of the 19 items, experimental group workers were reported to have engaged in the activity more often than control group workers, although the differences were significant on only 3 of these items (talk about discipline, talk about handling anger, and talk about relations with spouse). For the four items control group workers more often engaged in, differences between the groups were small and not significant.

As in Kentucky and New Jersey, there was a significant difference between the groups in the average number of activities reported by caretakers, 4.6 for the experimental group (n = 80) vs. 2.89 for the control group (n = 37) (p = .02).4 Experimental group respondents also judged more activities as especially helpful, an average of 1.34 vs. .84 (p = .04). Again, the items cited most often as helpful were similar to those in Kentucky and New Jersey. Both the experimental and control groups most often listed talk about discipline, talk about how to handle anger, and transportation as most helpful, although experimental group respondents cited these activities far more often.


(1)  The results of the secondary analyses show slightly greater differences between the experimental and control groups. Here, 8 of the 19 items show significant differences in favor of the experimental group at p = .01 or lower, and an additional 2 items show significant differences in the same direction at p = .05 or lower. See Appendix H-1.

(2)  These differences were even larger when violations and minimal service cases were excluded from the analyses (4.6 vs. 2.1, ns of 138 and 110, p = .001).

(3) Differences were even greater when the violations and minimal service cases were excluded (3.57 vs. 1.90, ns of 181 and 115, p = .0001)

(4) In the secondary analysis, the experimental group had an average of 4.99 activities, compared to 2.88 for the control group.