Abstract: Attitudes Held By Child Welfare and Domestic Violence Stakeholders Regarding Adult Domestic Violence Survivors and People Who Use Violence (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

344P Attitudes Held By Child Welfare and Domestic Violence Stakeholders Regarding Adult Domestic Violence Survivors and People Who Use Violence

Friday, January 14, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
April Diaz, MSW, MA, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, Lawrence, KS
Nancy Kepple, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Kansas, KS
Cheryl Holmes, MPA, Research Project Director, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Linda Chimwemwe G. Banda, MSW, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Juliana Carlson, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Becci Akin, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Background: The federally funded Quality Improvement Center on Domestic Violence in Child Welfare (QIC-DVCW) seeks to evaluate a collaborative model aimed to improve the lives of families experiencing domestic violence (DV) and involved in the child welfare system. The intervention posits that provider attitudes and beliefs related to families shape practices and are modifiable targets for systems-level changes. This study provides an exploratory, descriptive analysis of baseline beliefs about working with adult survivors and people who use violence (PUVs) across stakeholders (including child welfare caseworkers, supervisors, and a range of community providers).

Methods: Data were collected at baseline using a project-developed web-based survey, which was administered to three project sites in one Midwestern state and two Atlantic-coast states. Among those participating (N = 629), 54.5% were child welfare caseworkers, 18.3% were child welfare supervisors, and 27.2% were community partners. Using a 5-point Likert scale from Always True to Never True, participants identified the degree to which they agreed with statements gauging their attitudes and beliefs regarding adult survivors and PUVs. Examples of survey items include: “Adult victims/survivors choose their partners over their children's safety and well-being” and “People who use violence (i.e., DV offenders) don't change their violent behavior.” Items associated with adult survivors or PUVs were combined to create a mean score ranging from 1 = positive beliefs to 5 = negative beliefs. ANOVAs were used to assess differences in mean scores across the three stakeholder groups followed by multivariate linear regression models, controlling for respondent age, ethnicity, child welfare experience, secondary traumatic stress, perceived safety in their job activities, and site location.

Results: Bivariate analyses indicated that stakeholder attitudes regarding PUVs did not significantly differ; however, stakeholder attitudes regarding adult survivors significantly differed by role. Multivariate analyses confirmed no significant differences in attitudes toward PUVs were present across stakeholders; however, for every year increase in provider age, attitudes towards PUVs shifted towards being more negative (p = 0.016). All else being equal, caseworkers reported more negative beliefs/attitudes about adult survivors compared to child welfare supervisors (p = 0.021). In addition, providers who identified as feeling generally safe at their job reported significantly more positive attitudes/beliefs toward adult survivors (p = 0.003), holding all other variables constant.

Conclusions/Implications: Overall, understanding the attitudes/beliefs various stakeholders hold regarding clients provides necessary context to plan for effective interventions. With this information, those planning interventions know where the most training and coaching focus is needed and where obstacles may emerge. In this study, for example, caseworkers in the sample held more negative beliefs/attitudes about adult survivors than supervisors did. This finding is critical as caseworkers’ negative views of the survivors, including a lack of belief in a survivor’s ability to develop resilience, may affect their ability to provide strengths-based, transformative services. Although this study’s findings must be contextualized, there is value in understanding differences in stakeholder attitudes so that interventions may better serve families experiencing DV and involved in child welfare.