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Title:The Effect of Family Support Service Availability on Child Placement Decisions
Author(s):Rapp, Charles Anthony
Department / Program:Social Work
Discipline:Social Work
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Social Work
Abstract:The placement decision in child welfare has long been considered a critical far-reaching decision. The decision impacts children and families, the allocation of resources within the service system, and often raises legal issues of equity. Previous studies examining the placement of children have failed to uncover variables which are predictive of the decision. Characteristics of the children, parents and environmental conditions have produced highly inconsistent results across studies. Similarly, the characteristics of the decision maker have not been found to be associated with the decision. Although most decision making paradigms include consideration of alternatives, this has not been applied in studies of placement decisions.
The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of alternative services on the placement decision. The specific objectives were to assess whether: (1)increased alternative family support services leads to a reduction in the decisions to place; (2)increased alternative family support services affects the reliability of worker judgements; (3)selected caseworker characteristics affect the decision to place.
The study employed a survey experiment methodology. The population of direct service workers in six of the eight regions of the Illinois Department of Children and Family services served as subjects. Each subject was randomly assigned one of three simulated case descriptions. The experimental group also received an inventory of 26 services and short descriptions of the service. This group was instructed to "assume that each of the services is available, without financial limits, and has a reasonable level of effectiveness." Furthermore, experimental subjects could refer to the service inventory while completing the questionnaire. Both groups were requested to make several case judgements including whether the child should be placed.
The results failed to support the notion that the increased availability of family support services would reduce the placement of children nor would it improve the reliability of decision between workers. Age of the worker, field office affiliation, and estimated percentage of current caseload in placement were found to be moderately associated with the placement decision. While the availability of alternatives was not a potent predictor, the data strongly suggests the existence of a decision making subcultures within the organization. Data on the prevalent use of consultation, variation in reliability scores between regions, and the worker's field office affiliation indicate that organizational factors may be more powerful predictors of placement decisions than service availability.
Implications of the findings for child welfare managers, planners, direct service workers, and educators are discussed. In addition, two alternative revisions in the placement decision making paradigm are offered.
Issue Date:1981
Description:144 p.
Thesis (D.S.W.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8114466
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-05-13
Date Deposited:1981

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