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

17017 Comprehensive Organizational Assessment In Two Tribal Child Welfare Programs

Saturday, January 14, 2012: 5:30 PM
Cabin John (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Cathryn C. Potter, Professor, Associate Provost for Research, Executive Director, Butler Institute for Families, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Joe Walker, MA, Evaluation Specialist, Native American Training Association, Bismark, ND
Sheridan Green, MA, Senior Research Analyst, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Robin Leake, PhD, Research Manager, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Background: The Western Workforce project tests a workforce assessment and intervention model focused on organizational health for public and tribal child welfare agencies. The project builds on previous recruitment and retention and child welfare systems of care projects, and organizational theory and intervention research (Potter, Comstock, Brittain & Hanna, 2010). The Comprehensive Organizational Health Assessment (COHA) was developed to both inform workforce interventions and evaluate improvements on various organizational domains. The COHA consists of a workforce survey and qualitative data collection components from workers, supervisors, managers, families and youth, and agency community partners. In working with tribal child welfare agency partners to conduct the assessment, we sought to answer the following research questions: (a) What modifications need to be made to the tools and methods to ensure a strong cultural fit with tribal agencies? and (b) What areas of strength and need within the tribal agencies become the focus of tribal-specific organizational interventions? Methods: The COHA survey consists 28 scales assessing dimensions of organizational climate and culture (Glisson, 2007; Potter, et al, 2010). In the tribal sites, survey data were collected from 28 child welfare staff persons (100% response rate), 29 child welfare clients, and 32 community partners in two Plains tribes. Psychometric analyses were conducted with the COHA subscales from the larger sample of both tribal and state participants, including both exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. Quantitative data, in the form of descriptive data were presented to the tribal stakeholders in a summary results brief. Qualitative data were analyzed through thematic content analysis of the individual interviews and survey open-ended responses. The presentation will discuss the modifications to the administration and sharing of findings of the COHA to ensure a strong cultural fit with tribal child welfare, including: face-to-face interviews and paper/pencil survey administration, inclusion of Native American evaluators collecting the data, and presentation of data in a community forum using an accessible “results brief” format for presentation of the data. Results: The now-completed psychometric findings / modifications for the COHA scales will be presented, including a discussion of significant modifications required to several commonly used measures. The Tribal COHA findings indicate unique strengths and challenges for each tribe. Common strengths include worker resiliency, approach to the work, supervision and professional sharing and support. Both tribes struggled with individual vicarious trauma and historical trauma at higher levels than their state counterparts, in addition to a number of unique systemic challenges. These findings led to strategic planning and unique tribal interventions to address workforce issues. These interventions are in process. Conclusions: Using a culturally-based approach allowed researchers to build relationships with stakeholders, gather in-depth, authentic qualitative data and ensure a high survey response rate. It also paved the way for a collaborative environment to share and discuss sensitive assessment findings and develop strategic plans. Building trust was critical to the success of the COHA and the organizational intervention. This presentation will present the findings for each site, and discuss how the tribes used the findings to structure organization interventions.
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