Publication Date

Fall 2012

Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Ken Williams

Abstract

Since the late 1960‘s, child protection agencies have acted under federal mandate to intervene in cases of child abuse and neglect. In accordance with state child protection laws, these agencies provide monitoring and support services to "at-risk" families. Despite these efforts, studies have shown that a record number of parents who receive services are re-reported to the agency for additional offenses within a short period of time. The available literature attributes recidivism to delayed or mismanaged interventions and adverse socio-economic conditions among parents, but research that considers employee perspectives on chronic neglect is scant. This paper explores inter and extra-agency perceptions of the phenomenon by asking the following question: Which factors contribute to the continued neglect of children by parents who have received extensive agency services in the past? Survey subjects in County A and interview subjects in the Midwest, Southwest, and Northeast regions associated programmatic shortcomings, substance addiction, mental health issues, lack of parental motivation, and socio-economic depravation with recidivism. Both participant pools indicated that the agency‘s standardized, non-collaborative approach to case planning may be connected to recurring maltreatment during the post-service period. In their professional experience, resource quality and accessibility was meaningless without recipient engagement. They championed preventive programs and collaborative decision-making in their respective agencies as a means to decrease recidivism by empowering families—not government—to ensure the ongoing safety and wellbeing of their children. The collected findings add to our knowledge of the strengths and limitations of traditional interventions, and they highlight the need for additional training and alternative case planning methods that empower the biological family unit.

Disciplines

Civic and Community Engagement | Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Social Work