Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

17004 Assessing the Psychometrics of the Student's Knowledge and Skills In Child Welfare Scale

Friday, January 13, 2012: 10:00 AM
Arlington (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Savra Frounfelker, Doctoral Student, University at Buffalo (The State University of New York), Buffalo, NY
Binahayati Rusyidi, PhD, Faculty, University of Padjadjaran, Sumedang, West Java, Indonesia
Mansoor AF Kazi, PhD, Research Associate Professor & Director Program Evaluation Center, University at Buffalo (The State University of New York), Buffalo, NY
Background and Purpose: Research has been somewhat controversial in showing the importance of education in the child welfare field. However, strong evidence indicates that BSW programs work to bring in well-trained, effective child welfare workers in a challenging field. Little has been studied assessing the knowledge of child welfare social work students in comparison to workers without social work degrees. Currently, reliable and valid instrumentation is lacking to understand core knowledge and practice skills in child welfare. The purpose of this study was to assess the psychometric's of a newly created scale focused specifically on the knowledge of child welfare workers.

Methods: Student's Knowledge and Skills in Child Welfare Scale (SKSCHS) is a 31-item questionnaire initially developed to assess the transfer and development of child welfare knowledge and skills for senior BSW students who participated in the New York State Scholarship in Public Child Welfare program. BSW students from across New York State were recruited to participate in the analysis of the SKSCHS. For the initial results, 47 BSW students participated. Follow-up questionnaires yielded 144 BSW participants. However, the sample size decreased to 122 when questionnaires with missing variables were excluded. Results: Results utilizing the initial sample of 47 BSW students indicated a test retest reliability of .95. An internal consistency analysis conducted using the 122 usable responses had a Cronbach's Alpha of .94. An initial analysis done on SPSS including a Scree Plot of the 31 Likert Scale variables was conducted for the 122 questionnaires yielding a 2 to 6 factor solution. Further analysis utilizing MPlus6 for an Exploratory Factor Analysis of 2 to 7 factors was conducted in order to account for the categorical variables used in the SKSCHS. A 5-factor solution was chosen based on the goodness of fit indices and clinical significance. The Chi Square was (320, n=122) 546.6, p = 0.00 with a CFI = .97 and a TLI = .96. The five factors were termed; Core Knowledge, Skill Confidence, Impact of Child Abuse, Research Skills and Core Legal Knowledge. Core Knowledge, Core Legal Knowledge and Research Skills all fit with the theories incorporating required knowledge of child welfare workers. The dimensions of Confidence in Skill and Impact of Child Abuse found in the factor analysis fit within theories surrounding worker skill development.

Discussion: The results show the Student's Knowledge and Skills in Child Welfare Scale to have a high reliability and internal validity as well as promising finding that fit a 5-factor solution. Further research of the SKSCWS should include having a larger sample size and more in depth analysis including SEM, which would assess possible covariances within the variables. The SKSCWS could also be tested utilizing MSW students and the general child welfare worker population in order to generalize the questionnaire to a bigger population. Given the lack of existing research instruments assessing knowledge of social work child welfare workers, the questionnaire could significantly add to the overall child welfare research field.