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

180 Examining Beliefs, Barriers, Policies, and Evaluation Procedures In International Social Work and Fostering Family Connections

Sunday, January 15, 2012: 8:45 AM-10:30 AM
Penn Quarter B (Grand Hyatt Washington)
Cluster: Social Work Practice
Carl F. Siebert, MBA, MS, Rutgers University, Julie M. Koivunen, PhD, Rutgers University, Felicity Northcott, PhD, International Social Service - USA Branch, Wendy Jeffries, MPP, International Social Service - USA Branch and Fiona Conway Cumberbatch, BA, Rutgers University
Interjurisdictional placements of children in foster care that cross national boarders pose a significant challenge for social work practitioners. This challenge becomes even more acute when personnel are unfamiliar with available resources, have little expertise with procedures and guidelines, or experience difficulties with management or lack of available resources.

To address this challenge, Federal Fostering Connections to Success Demonstration Project and International Social Service-USA Branch (a USA-based office in a not-for-profit worldwide organization) is developing and implementing new interjurisdictional family finding practices, reviewing international case practice policy, and training Department of Children and Family employees and judicial staff throughout a northeastern state. To monitor the effectiveness of the project, an extensive evaluation component was designed that includes a statewide needs assessment, a longitudinal quasi-experimental study on caseworker beliefs and knowledge, training satisfaction surveys, focus groups, and a method to capture workload trends and service utilization.

This roundtable session will initiate a dialogue about differing beliefs and policies for international social work practice and evaluation procedures for studying work environments and knowledge transfer. Services offered by federal agencies and by ISS-USA to those working with international cases will also be discussed. Presenters will offer particular attention to lessons learned and best practices when working internationally, along with the legal guidelines for various types of international casework (e.g., home studies, background checks, repatriation, adoption, mediation assistance, terminating parental rights, etc.). For example, two presenters will discuss the service agencies and services available to caseworkers, how to request these services, and where to look to get additional information on available resources. In addition, the two presenters will share their knowledge of the law and legal requirements when working with cases that reach beyond the USA.

Two other presenters will initiate a dialogue on various evaluation strategies to study policies and practices in international foster care and family finding. Lessons learned from collecting data using online surveys, focus groups, needs assessments, and reports will be discussed, as well as ways to implement these activities in future data collection and analysis studies. In addition, various methods to overcoming barriers to collecting data from State agencies and gaining access to state workers will be shared and explored.

Participants of this round table session will leave with an expanded awareness of available resources and services for those working in international foster care and family connections, and leave with a broader understanding of various evaluation strategies. These evaluation strategies can support evidence-based practices, identify challenges facing employees, and help build effective training and knowledge of legal requirements when working with international cases.

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