Abstract: What Skills Are Targeted for Transfer in Child Welfare Settings? (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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What Skills Are Targeted for Transfer in Child Welfare Settings?

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Encanto A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Avital Kaye-Tzadok, PhD, MSW, Department Head, Ruppin Academic Center, Netanya, Israel
Geetha Gopalan, PhD, Associate Professor, Hunter College, New York, NY, Associate Professor, Silberman School of Social Work, Hunter College, City University of New York
Kerry Deas, MSW, PhD Student, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, NY
Diane DePanfilis, PhD, MSW, Professor, Hunter College, New York, NY
Background and Purpose: Worldwide, children's safety and wellbeing is threatened by child abuse and neglect. Keeping children safe depends on the knowledge, skills, and competencies of child welfare professionals (see, for example, DePanfilis, 2018). Despite the extensive investment made in training these professionals (U.S. General Accounting Office, 2004), significant difficulties remain in the utilization of skills learned in training into daily work, also known as Transfer of Learning (ToL; Strand & Bosco-Ruggiero, 2011). A scoping review was conducted in order to synthesize and consolidate published literature on ToL in Child welfare services. This paper focuses on the types of child welfare workers' skills assessed in studies regarding ToL.

Methods: A scoping review was carried out, examining existing literature published between 1998-2020 on ToL. Pre-specified search terms were used for searching published literature in PsycInfo (EBSCO), PubMed, CINAHL, and Business Source Premier, with additional filtering using Endnote and relevant terms to focus on helping professions. Secondary search strategies involved identification of relevant studies from prior informal searches, hand searching of ToL review articles, and inclusion of relevant dissertations. After removal of duplications, n = 3804 records were entered into Covidence, a web-based systematic review tool. After limiting records to those focused in child welfare settings, n = 21 publications were included for final data extraction and qualitative synthesis.

Results: Overall, the transfer of 26 skills was assessed in the 21 publications examined in this scoping review. Each of the studies focused on 1-8 skills, with the average number of skills being M= 3.76. The skills which were assessed most frequently were engagement (n=14), interviewing (n= 12, out of which n= 7 focused on Motivational Interviewing), and assessment (n=7). Other frequently assessed skills were case management (n=5) and development of a service plan (n=5). Each of the following was assessed in n=3 studies: Decision making; Relationship and marriage education; and behavioral skills training. Conflict resolution was assessed in n=2 studies. Finally, 15 skills were assessed in one (n=1) study, for example, Clinical supervision; Follow-up; and Joint Investigative Interviewing for Social Workers and Police Officers.

Conclusions and Implications: Findings indicate that some skills are more often focused on in studies regarding ToL in child welfare settings. While, indeed, all skills were highly relevant for child welfare practice, it was noticeable that other skills which are extremely pertinent for child welfare, such as de-escalation, critical thinking or cultural responsiveness, all considered child welfare competencies (DePanfilis, 2018) were not included in any of the studies.


DePanfilis, D. (2018). Child protective services: A guide for caseworkers. US Department of

Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children's Bureau, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect.

Strand, V., & Bosco‐Ruggiero, S. (2011). Implementing transfer of learning in training andprofessional development in a US public child welfare agency: what works?. Professional development in education, 37(3), 373-387.

U.S. General Accounting office. (2004). Child Welfare: Improved Federal Oversight Could Assist States in Overcoming Key Challenges (GAO-04-418T). Testim. https://www.gao.gov/assets/a110560.html