Abstract: (WITHDRAWN) Organizational Support Networks during Hurricane Irma: Perspectives of Child-Serving Residential Facility Executives (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

(WITHDRAWN) Organizational Support Networks during Hurricane Irma: Perspectives of Child-Serving Residential Facility Executives

Saturday, January 18, 2020
Congress, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Julie Steen, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
Background and Purpose:  Child welfare and juvenile justice executives that operate residential facilities face unique challenges during hurricanes.  A number of guides provide these executives with recommendations for disaster preparedness (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2009; National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement, 2007; U.S. Department of Justice, 2011).  Though these guides do address the value of organizational networking, the content is generally limited to networking between human service and emergency management entities.  Given the power of organizational networks to influence outcomes during disasters (Kapucu & Demiroz, 2017), greater understanding of the networks that surround child-serving residential facilities is warranted.  Thus, this study addressed the following questions within the context of Hurricane Irma:  Which network partnerships were active during storm preparedness, response, and recovery?  What hurricane-specific supports were shared in these networks?         

Methods:  A qualitative study of organizational support networks was conducted with a convenience sample of 27 executives located across Florida.  Their perceptions were collected primarily through phone interviews, though five of the executives were not available by phone and thus participated through an online survey that contained the same interview questions.  They represented a variety of different types of child-serving residential facilities that served a number of client groups (e.g., adolescents in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, adolescents in need of behavioral health services, and pregnant and parenting teens).  Interview questions focused on their experiences before, during, and after the storm.  Transcripts were coded to identify network partners and supports shared. 

Results:  Agencies represented by the respondents were classified into three categories:  isolated entities that did not participate in a support network; entities that were supported by a network of either internal or external organizations/groups/actors; and entities that both supported and were supported by members of the network.  Sources of support included churches, businesses, nonprofit agencies, governmental units, and community donors.  Support was provided to the facilities in all three stages of the experience, included preparation, response, and recovery.  Examples of support received include tree-trimming, high priority access to limited water and fuel, shelter during the storm, and funds for property repair.  The facilities themselves provided support to others during the response and recovery phases.  Recipients of facility support included relief workers, facility employees, community groups, and fellow facilities.  These supports included shelter, meals, excess hurricane supplies, and manual labor for community clean-up.

Conclusions and Implications:  From an academic standpoint, this study begins to fill an important gap regarding the organizational support networks in which child-serving residential facilities participate during disaster.  Of particular interest is the fact that these facilities not only benefit from the network but also contribute to the well-being of network members.  From a practical standpoint, these results have implications for residential facilities that could benefit from increasing their networks by adding the connections identified in this study.  Further, funding entities, such as state child welfare and juvenile justice agencies, could use these results to facilitate the development of networks for the facilities they fund.