242289 What do parents perceive about their involvement with child welfare services? Implications for intervention

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 8:30 AM

Lianne Fuino Estefan, MPH , Community and Family Health, University of South Florida, College of Public Health, Tampa, FL
Martha L. Coulter, DrPH MSW , Department of Community and Family Health, University of South Florida, College of Public Health, Tampa, FL
Background: Effective intervention with parents who maltreat their children and become involved with child welfare services is critical to reducing the risk of repeated maltreatment, especially for families with co-occurring problems such as domestic violence and substance abuse. However, research has suggested that the services provided to families may not meet their needs, and few studies have directly considered parents' perceptions on their involvement in the child welfare process. Purpose: This study employed a family-centered perspective to explore the subjective experiences of mothers and fathers involved in child welfare services. Methods: Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with 20 parents (13 mothers and 7 fathers) involved with child welfare services. Interviews were analyzed using the constant comparative method. Results: Preliminary analyses found that parents described multiple types of maltreatment, including physical abuse, domestic violence, drug abuse, medical neglect, and child endangerment. Themes included lack of parental understanding of why they were referred to services or what they were being asked to do, and a perception that “child abuse and neglect” refers to physical abuse only. Themes related to perception of the child welfare system included unfairness of being involved with services, feeling judged as parents, and limited supportiveness of providers. Additional analyses will examine factors that influence parents' understanding. Discussion: Parents expressed a lack of family-centeredness in their interactions with the child welfare system, including a lack of empowerment. In order to best prevent the re-occurrence of maltreatment, it is important to understand what parents need and intervene accordingly.

Learning Areas:
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1.Describe the perceptions of parents who have maltreated their children about why they are involved with child welfare services. 2.Discuss how parents feel treated by providers, and the implications for intervention.

Keywords: Child Abuse, Family Involvement

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the investigator for the research being presented. I am a doctoral candidate in public health, and the research was conducted for my dissertation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.