Many families served by the public child welfare (CW) system have experienced substance use (SU) concerns. Facilitating collaboration between CW and SU treatment agencies may promote provision of services to support the family. Factors associated with interagency relationships as well as CW decision-making include values and beliefs regarding families in which SU is an identified issue (Price Wolf et al., 2019), treatment needed, and the relationships between CW and SU clinicians (Drabble, 2007). Collaborative Intervention models continue to evolve. Data for the current study were collected as a baseline for such an interorganizational collaborative in three rural and matched comparison counties. Researchers are using baseline data to inform intervention components and the implementation process with partner agencies. The purpose of this presentation is to explore perceptions of CW workers as they relate to SU and collaboration with SU providers.
CW workers and supervisors in six mostly rural counties in a midwestern state completed the Collaborative Values Inventory (CVI; Children and Family Futures, 2017). This version of the instrument demonstrated good reliability (α=.79). The CVI is composed of 24 value and belief statements (Huebner et al., 2021) about SU and SU treatment, and is measured on a 5-point Likert scale assessing relative agreement. Participants also provided information on the extent to which they collaborated with treatment providers when serving families experiencing SU issues. Univariate frequencies and bivariate t-tests were employed to explore differences in responses between intervention and comparison counties.
The sample consisted of 46 mostly white and female participants. Over 60% worked for CW for > 3 years. Preliminary results point to several areas which may influence intervention implementation. Univariate frequencies suggest over 57% agreed funding restrictions prohibit collaborative service delivery between CW and SU providers; 55% agreed protection of confidentiality will be a barrier to case planning. Over 36% disagreed that SU clinicians serving families should have a voice in child safety and placement decisions and well over 50% had never/infrequently had a SU clinician participate in a court appearance or treatment planning conference. Bivariate analysis found statistically significant differences between the intervention (M=32.17, SD=5.63) and comparison sites (M=34.82, SD=4.06) on subscales of beliefs about CW families in which SU is a concern (t=1.82, df=44, p<.05) and values/beliefs about SU treatment (intervention M=21.79, SD=3.91, comparison M=22.77, SD=2.33 sites) (t=1.02, df=44, p<.03).
Conclusions and Implications
Results illuminate CW worker beliefs which may influence implementation of treatment collaboratives and, ultimately, child/family wellbeing. From an implementation science perspective, baseline measurement of CW Worker attitudes and beliefs related to families experiencing SU and treatment provides valuable information on what programs need to address when implementing interorganizational and intraorganizational treatment initiatives. While typically collected in preparation for outcome evaluation, baseline data can be used effectively to inform CW managers regarding how training, supervision and decision-support processes may influence an organizational environment which is amenable to proactive treatment promoting child/family wellbeing. SU Treatment and CW organizations may also benefit from information collected in the CVI to inform interagency processes.