Methods: Using secondary data analysis this study examined the clinical and worker factors that predicted the ongoing services provision. The CIS (2008) was used to answer two primary research questions; 1) Which clinical and case worker characteristics predict the decision to provide ongoing services for children between zero and three years?; and 2) Does the decision to provide ongoing services to children between zero and three differ among child welfare workers across Canada? A final parsimonious two-level model addressed the research questions. Information about child maltreatment investigations (e.g., child age, child functioning, caregiver drug use, caregiver functioning, household finances) were collected from assigned child welfare workers, who were then invited to participate in a worker questionnaire (e.g., years of experience in child welfare, education type and level) and used as the independent variables. The dependent variable was whether the family was opened to ongoing services (yes, no).
Results: A total of 2296 children and 557 workers were included in the sample for the current study. The test between level one (clinical) and level two (worker) covariance parameter estimates indicated that the two-level model fit significantly better than the one-level model, suggesting dependence in the data. Final two-level multilevel models illustrate that children with functioning concerns, young caregivers, caregivers with drug use or mental health concerns were most likely to receive ongoing child welfare services. Further, caregivers with few social supports and who regularly ran out of money also were most likely to receive ongoing services. Few worker characteristics significantly predicted ongoing services provision in the final two-level parsimonious model. Workers in the ‘Ongoing’ and ‘Combination’ positions and those who attended more than 13 training sessions were most likely to transfer families to ongoing services. Lastly, the variance between workers’ decision to transfer a family to ongoing services was 29%, suggesting that the decision differs among workers.
Conclusions and Implications: Results suggest that worker characteristics play a role in the decision to provide child welfare services and that further research examining the role of worker characteristics is required.