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

3 Exploring Case and Service Characteristics of Children In Long-Term Foster Care to Guide Organizational Decision-Making for Implementing Practice and System Reforms

Thursday, January 12, 2012: 1:30 PM-3:15 PM
Independence C (Grand Hyatt Washington)
Cluster: Organizations and Management
Symposium Organizer:
Diane DePanfilis, PhD, MSW, University of Maryland at Baltimore
In 2009, 423,773 children were in foster care in the U.S. and almost half (44%) had not achieved permanency by 17 months as mandated by ASFA (DHHS, 2010). To address this problem, the federal government launched a major permanency innovation initiative to improve outcomes for children with the most serious barriers to permanency, build an evidence base for practice, and disseminate findings. Prior research has suggested that complex parental and family problems (Kelleher, et al., 1994; Glisson, et al., 2000), characteristics of children (Connell, et al., 2006; Courtney, et al., 1997; George, 1990), and service and system variables (CFSR, 2010; Wulczyn, et al, 2010) impact the length of time that children stay in foster care.

The initiative is structured to follow the stages of implementation science (Fixsen, et al., 2005) which begins with an exploration of risk and protective factors related to the problem (long term foster care) and the target population. Each project was charged with analyzing existing data to identify target populations at the highest risk of poor permanency outcomes to guide organizational decision-making for selecting interventions with the highest degree of evidence for addressing these barriers. Despite the need for social services agencies to use research to guide organizational decision-making, prior research suggests that political and organizational factors may impede true collaboration and the utilization of research results by agency leadership to guide decision-making (Anderson, 2001). Child welfare agencies, in particular, are not typically structured to analyze and use data to drive decision-making about policy and practice reforms (Jack et al., 2010). The projects represented in this symposium employed collaborative relationships between public and private agencies and Schools of Social Work to conduct studies on three target populations at risk for long term foster care: (1) African American and American Indian children; (2) unsafe children due to maltreatment; and (3) children with serious emotional and behavioral problems. Paper 1 uses administrative data to understand barriers for African American and American Indian ethnic groups. Paper 2 uses data from case reviews and administrative data systems to identify the most important family and service characteristics for children who entered care because of maltreatment and safety concerns. Paper 3 explores the trajectory of children identified with serious emotional and behavioral disorders based on data from case reviews and administrative data systems. Data for all three papers were explored through survival analysis procedures to model time to permanency with cohorts of children who entered care in those service jurisdictions. Presenters will discuss the methods used to engage agency partners in defining the scope of data exploration and to consider the results of analyses in their eventual selection of practice/policy strategies that will be tested with these three target populations. Participants will be engaged to consider the benefits of university-agency partnerships for using implementation science to drive system and practice reforms. Implications for future research, policy, and practice will be discussed.

* noted as presenting author
California Partners for Permanency (CAPP): Toward Reducing Disparity In Child Welfare Permanency Outcomes
Daniel Webster, PhD, University of California, Berkeley; Debbie Williams, MSW, California Department of Social Services; Stuart Oppenheim, MSW, Child and Family Policy Institute of California; David Plassman, MSW, Fresno Department of Children and Family Services; Joseph Magruder, PhD, University of California, Berkeley
Using Quantitative and Qualitative Methods to Explore Barriers to Permanency for Children Who Entered Care Because They Were Unsafe At Home
Diane DePanfilis, PhD, MSW, University of Maryland at Baltimore; Pamela A. Clarkson Freeman, PhD, University of Utah; Sarah Reiman, MSW, University of Maryland at Baltimore
Using Quantitative and Qualitative Methods to Explore Barriers to Permanency for Children with SED and Their Parents
Becci A. Akin, PhD, University of Kansas; Stephanie A. Bryson, PhD, University of Kansas School of Social Welfare; Tom McDonald, PhD, University of Kansas; Sheila Walker, MSW, University of Kansas
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