Exploring the Experiences of Child Welfare-Focused Therapeutic Service Providers
The importance of mental and behavioral health for child welfare clients is well-documented; yet, little is known about the challenges therapeutic service providers (TSPs) experience working in child welfare practice. To explore this topic, five focus groups were conducted with 40 TSPs in a contracted mental and behavioral health agency and data were analyzed following an inductive thematic process. Eleven primary challenges were identified, including the difficulty of navigating numerous involved parties, an overwhelmed work environment, legal intersections common to child welfare cases, unrealistic agency expectations, and heighten case complexity when working with child welfare populations. Findings are organized across system, agency, and client levels and add to the understanding of TSP perspectives working with child welfare. Targeted interventions are discussed, such as efforts to promote realistic expectations and training strategies, as well as directions for future research to improve the intersection between child welfare and mental and behavioral health.
This study was supported by a grant from the Florida Institute for Child Welfare.
M.L. Colvin and H. M. Thompson received funding through the Florida Institute for Child Welfare for this project. No conflict of interest has been identified.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- 2.Greeson J, Briggs EC, Kisiel CL, et al. Complex trauma and mental health in children and adolescents placed in foster care: Findings from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Child Welfare. 2011; 90: 91–108.Google Scholar
- 10.Halemba G, Siegel G. Doorways to delinquency: Multi-system involvement of delinquent youth in King County. Pittsburgh, PA: National Center for Juvenile Justice; 2011.Google Scholar
- 11.Lesperance T, Moore KA, Barrett B, et al. Relationship between trauma and risky behavior in substance-abusing parents involved in a family dependency treatment court. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma. 2011; 2: 163–174. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/10926771.2011.546752 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 14.U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Child Maltreatment 2015. 2017. Available online at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/child-maltreatment-2015. Accessed 12 March 2019
- 15.Child Trends Databank. Foster care. 2015. Available online at https://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=foster-care
- 17.U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Evolving roles of public and private agencies in privatized child welfare systems. 2008. Available online at https://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/evolving-roles-public-and-private-agencies-privatized-child-welfare-systems
- 18.U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NSCAW State Child Welfare Agency Survey: Report. 2001. Available online at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/opre/resource/nscaw-state-child-welfare-agency-survey-report
- 22.Kerns SE, Pullmann MD, Putnam B, et al. Child welfare and mental health: Facilitators of and barriers to connecting children and youths in out-of-home care with effective mental health treatment. Children and Youth Services Review. 2014; 46: 315–324. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2014.09.013 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 28.Glisson C, Green P. The effects of organizational culture and climate on the access to mental health care in child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research. 2006; 33: 433–448. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10488-005-0016-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 37.Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. P. L. 105–89. (1997).Google Scholar
- 38.Marshall C, Rossman GB. Designing qualitative research, 5 th Edition. Thousand Oak, CA: Sage Publications, Inc; 2010.Google Scholar
- 40.Scientific Software Development (Germany). Scientific Software Development's ATLAS.ti. Berlin, Germany: Scientific Software Development; 2002.Google Scholar
- 42.Boyatzis R. Transforming qualitative information: Thematic analysis and code development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; 1998Google Scholar
- 44.Author. 2017Google Scholar
- 47.Cahalane H, Sites EW. The climate of child welfare employee retention. Child Welfare: Journal of Policy, Practice, and Program. 2008; 87: 91–114.Google Scholar
- 48.Ellett AJ, Ellis JI, Westbrook TM, et al. A qualitative study of 369 child welfare professionals' perspectives about factors contributing to employee retention and turnover. Children and Youth Services Review. 2007; 29: 264–281, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2006.07.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 52.Strand VC, Badger L. Professionalizing child welfare: An evaluation of clinical consultation model for supervisors. Children and Youth Services Review. 2005; 27: 865–880. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2004.12.001
- 53.Chuang E, Wells R. The role of inter-agency collaboration in facilitating receipt of behavioral health services for youth involved with child welfare and juvenile justice. Children and Youth Services Review. 2010; 32: 1814–1822. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2010.08.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 57.Sprang G, Craig C, Clark J. Secondary traumatic stress and burnout in child welfare workers: A comparative analysis of occupational distress across professional groups. Child Welfare. 2011; 90: 149–168.Google Scholar
- 58.Kim A, Mor Barak ME. The mediating roles of leader–member exchange and perceived organizational support in the role stress–turnover intention relationship among child welfare workers: A longitudinal analysis. Children and Youth Services Review. 2015; 52: 135–143. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2014.11.009 CrossRefGoogle Scholar