• Change over time in implementation fidelity of a child welfare practice model

      Rice, Karen (Karen M.); DePanfilis, Diane (2011)
      In the field of child welfare, previous research has largely focused on assessing the efficacy and effectiveness of interventions rather than on the implementation of the intervention. The primary aim of this dissertation was to broaden the understanding of the change over time in implementation fidelity of a safety management practice model in a state public child welfare agency by exploring specific practitioner and organizational characteristics that may influence implementation fidelity. The dissertation is a secondary analysis of a longitudinal study. Data collected were examined at an organizational and case level. Single system research design (SSRD) was employed to explore the change in implementation fidelity over time within each district. To identify whether differences in implementation fidelity scores exist across districts, case level ANOVA and MANOVA analyses were conducted. Throughout the 11 month time period, none of the districts averaged a high degree of implementation fidelity (80% and above). One district demonstrated statistically significant higher implementation fidelity of the practice model than the other two districts. Additionally, the districts differed statistically in degree of implementation fidelity on two components of the practice model, Temporary Protection and Safety Planning. This may suggest ongoing coaching and training of staff members in order to aid in the change in practitioners' perceptions of the value and benefit of the innovation. For this to occur, federal, state, and private foundations must not only require implementation studies within organizations receiving financial support, but must also fund the components associated with implementation. These and other social work implications are explored.
    • The epidemiology of child maltreatment recurrences

      DePanfilis, Diane; Zuravin, Susan J., 1944- (1995)
      The primary aim of this dissertation was to elucidate the epidemiology of child maltreatment recurrences among families known to public child protective services (CPS). The specific objectives were: (1) To describe the pattern of recurrences over time; (2) To identify correlates of recurrence during and following CPS intervention; and (3) To describe the pattern of multiple recurrences. Subjects were a cohort of 1167 families who experienced a confirmed report of maltreatment and were followed for five years. Data on variables were collected from archival sources. To achieve objective 1, Life Tables were constructed at 30 day intervals to estimate the probability of recurrence during each interval. Survival functions of groups were then compared with the Wilcoxon (Gehan) statistic. To achieve objective 2, Kaplan Meier survival analyses were performed to compare the survival functions of potential variables and to test the Cox proportionality assumption of each variable. Models were then estimated with the Cox Proportional hazards model. To achieve objective 3, methods involved comparing the mean time until each recurrence between groups. Results suggest that risk of recurrence is greatest during the first thirty days following a report, that it is dependent on the type of maltreatment, and that it declines over time through the service period and remains relatively low for two years following the termination of services. Correlates of the time until first maltreatment recurrence while CPS was active were: child vulnerability, family stress, partner abuse, social support deficits and an interaction between family stress and social support deficits. Only one factor, age of the mother, predicted time until recurrence following services. Most recurrence families experienced only one recurrence. As the number of recurrences increased, the length of time between recurrences decreased. Future research should prospectively follow families over time to increase understanding about the specific treatment strategies and social supports most helpful to reducing risk of recurrence.
    • Examining factors that impact transfer of training by Department of Social Services workers

      Love, Pamela M.; DePanfilis, Diane (2007)
      Millions of dollars are spent each year on training for DSS workers in Maryland. However, little is known about the extent to which employees transfer training to the work setting. There is also little known about the factors that facilitate or inhibit transfer of training by DSS employees. The purpose of this dissertation study was to identify factors that impact transfer of training by DSS workers. The specific objectives were to: (1) examine the extent to which training is transferred to the work setting; (2) examine those factors that predict transfer of training; and (3) examine whether employee's perception of supervisor support impacts transfer of training in the work setting. This was an exploratory and descriptive study conducted in 2005 using a convenience sample of 64 employees that participated in one of three training courses between December 2005 and July 2006. All employees had responsibility for safety assessment, risk assessment or risk based service planning. Seventy-three percent of eligible employees participated in a ninety-day post-training telephone interview conducted by the researcher. In addition to collecting data on their overall transfer of training rate and their perceptions of supervisor support, data were collected on participants' prior knowledge rate, didn't stick rate, and value added score. The results of this study indicate that having an MSW and months of employment with DSS were related to overall transfer of training and the value added score. Months of employment were also related to prior knowledge. This study advances the literature and has implications for child welfare practice, policy, theory, and research as it has identified understudied personal characteristics that impact transfer of training and provided information about the impact of prior knowledge on transfer in the work setting.
    • A longitudinal exploration of the factors that affect the timing of women's decisions to leave abusive relationships

      Panchanadeswaran, Subadra; DePanfilis, Diane (2002)
      Objectives. The objectives of this study were three-fold: (1) To describe the timing of abused women's departure from abusive relationships, (2) To empirically identify the factors that affect women's decisions to exit violent relationships, and (3) To examine life satisfaction levels of women who left with that of women who remained in abusive relationships for at least 10 years. Potential factors were identified based on evidence from earlier research. Methods. This study was based on secondary data analysis of a 10-year longitudinal data set of ethnically diverse abused and non-abused women. The current study sample comprised of 100 eligible abused women from a convenience sample of 362 abused and non-abused women in the original study. Data were collected in three waves from in-person interviews by trained interview coordinators. Data for this study were analyzed using event history analyses and MANCOVA techniques. Results. Three Cox regression models were constructed to explore the predictors of the timing of women's decisions to exit abusive relationships. In model 1, five variables predicted the timing of women's decision to exit abusive relationships: age, ethnicity, alcohol consumption levels of women and their partners and the frequency of less severe physical aggression (as per less severe physical aggression subscale of CTS) after controlling for other variables in the model. In addition to age, ethnicity, alcohol consumption levels of women and their partners, there was a significant interaction between the frequency of less severe physical aggression and shelter use in model 2. In model 3, age, ethnicity, alcohol consumption levels of women and the frequency of verbal aggression (as per verbal aggression subscale of CTS) emerged as predictors. Women who left their abusive partners did not differ significantly in their life satisfaction levels when compared with those who had remained in the abusive relationships for at least 10 years. Implications. Social workers intervening with abused women need to be better informed of the factors that are critical for women's safety, optimal times for intervention, and the possible avenues that could help women to resolve their victimization. This knowledge has significant implications for both clinicians and policy developers.
    • Making it Happen: Understanding Factors Related to Worker and Organizational Fidelity to Family Connections, a Child Maltreatment Prevention Program

      Bartley, Leah; DePanfilis, Diane; Bright, Charlotte Lyn (2017)
      It has been well documented that the degree to which interventions are implemented as intended, or with fidelity, in typical service settings has varied. Frequently, interventions are developed or tested in highly controlled or early adopter settings. Less attention has been given to what implementation looks like in the real world, and which factors promote a worker's ability to implement an intervention with fidelity. Individuals and organizations implementing intervention receive varying levels of support from external sources and little information from established research, and are often left to persevere through implementation efforts. It is necessary to pay attention to these factors in child maltreatment prevention to ensure that vulnerable children and families have access to, and receive when necessary, interventions as intended in agencies in their home communities. In the quantitative phase of this study, 32 case planners implementing FC, a child maltreatment preventive intervention, completed a survey about their perceptions of individual and organizational factors related to fidelity. These factors were identified through prior research and theory to be important in supporting the implementation of interventions. This survey data was connected to case level fidelity scores to understand the relationship between these variables. The qualitative phase of this study involved further exploration with nine case planner interviews and two separate focus groups with supervisors and agency leadership. The results of this study suggest that supervision is a key contributor to a worker's ability to implement an intervention in the real world. The quantitative and qualitative results suggest that various aspects of supervision, including supervisors' perseverance, proactiveness, knowledge, availability, and skill reinforcement are important components of efforts to support a worker's ability to learn and use FC. The quantitative results suggest that level of education and the perceptions of the intervention's limitations may be negatively related to implementation. Additional components also emerged from the qualitative phase that are worthy of future exploration, related to system expectations and policies, individual worker attributes, and characteristics of the intervention. Implications for practice, policy, and future research are discussed as they relate to the main findings of this study.
    • Neighborhood conditions, father involvement, parenting competence, and behavior problems in a sample of children at risk for neglect: A structural equation model

      Hayward, R. Anna; DePanfilis, Diane (2009)
      Internalizing and externalizing behaviors in children have been associated with continued patterns of anti-social behavior into adolescence and adulthood, including later risk for arrest (Patterson et al., 1992) and adult substance abuse (Ferdinand, Blum, & Verhulst, 2001). The primary aim of this dissertation was to broaden the understanding of neighborhood and family factors associated with child behavior problems in a sample of children residing in impoverished urban neighborhoods who were at risk for child neglect. This study used a cross sectional design to conduct secondary data analyses on 199 families who were served by the Family Connections program. The primary aim was to test a structural model explicating the relationships among neighborhood characteristics, perceived social capital, father involvement, parenting competence, and child behavior problems. Structural equation modeling (SEM) with robust maximum likelihood (MLM) estimation was used to test two structural regression models. Good model fit was obtained for both the internalizing behavior (Santorra-Bentler Scaled χ2= 57.9753 (df=30); χ2//df=1.9; RMSEA= .06; SRMR=.07; GFI=.94; NNFI=.91; CFI=.94) and externalizing behavior (Santorra-Bentler Scaled χ2= 58.8362 (df=30); χ2/df= 1.96; RMSEA= .06; SRMR=.07; GFI=.93; NNFI=.90; CFI=.93) models. Examination of path estimates revealed an indirect effect of neighborhood and social capital constructs on child behavior via parenting, but no direct effect of neighborhood or social capital on either internalizing or externalizing child behavior. Father involvement was not associated with parenting sense of competence but was related to externalizing behavior at a level that was statistically significant yet small in magnitude, and unrelated to child internalizing behavior in this analysis. The relationship between parenting competence and child behavior problems was significant for both models. This relationship was the largest in magnitude in the analysis. The combined effects of neighborhood conditions, social capital, father involvement, and parent competence for accounted for 24% (for internalizing) and 20% (for externalizing) of the variance with most of this observed effect deriving from the parenting construct.
    • Resilience of African American youth in transition from out-of-home care to adulthood

      Daining, Clara; DePanfilis, Diane (2004)
      Problem statement. Youth in transition from out-of-home care to adulthood are an especially vulnerable sub-population of the foster care system. In addition to the trauma of maltreatment, and challenges associated with out-of-home care, these youth face the premature and abrupt responsibility of self-sufficiency as they leave care for independent living. Purpose and objectives. The purpose of this dissertation study was to identify personal and interpersonal factors that contribute to resilience of young adults who have left out-of-home care of a large urban child welfare system. The objectives were to: (1) describe participant's social support systems; (2) operationalize resilience based on multiple domains; and (3) examine the relationship between personal and interpersonal factors and resilience. Approach. The study was a secondary data analysis of a single cross-sectional study conducted in 2002-2003 to assess the outcomes of a cohort of 186 young adults who left Baltimore City Department of Social Services out-of-home care between October 1, 1999 and September 30, 2000. Most study participants were initially placed due to child abuse or neglect in their biological families. Sixty percent of the eligible young adults participated in a computer-assisted self-administered interview about their self-sufficiency including: educational attainment, employment, housing, parenthood, health risk behavior, criminal activity, and perceived levels of social support, spiritual support, community support, and global life stress. The dissertation study explored the relationship between support systems, life stress, and the young adults' resilience reflecting key outcomes. Results. The study's findings indicated that gender, age at time of exit from care, and perceived life stress were related to the resilience of youth transitioning out of care. Females, older youth, and youth with lower perceived life stress had higher resilience scores. Implications for child welfare practice, policy, theory, and research advance the knowledge base about African American young adults in transition from out-of-home care.
    • Understanding American Muslim Youth of Arab and South Asian Ancestries: An Exploratory Study on the Factors Related to Risk Behaviors among Child Immigrants and Children of Immigrants

      Mirza, Fatima; DePanfilis, Diane (2014)
      Literature about the relationship between health risk behavior and identity among South Asian and Arab Muslim American adolescents is limited. Past studies suggest that cultures of origin, social support, and high religiosity may serve as protective factors while trauma, poor mental health, and social stigma may encourage engagement in health risk behaviors. The primary aim of this dissertation was to describe risk behaviors among Muslim American youth of Arab and South Asian ancestry and to explore the degree to which risk behaviors were related to demographics, personal history factors, identity, social support, trauma, religiosity, and/or spirituality. Fifty-seven 12 to 17 year old youths recruited from Muslim communities on the East Coast completed an in-person, computer assisted survey that explored life experiences, identity, social support, mental health, religiosity, spirituality, and behavior. The majority of participants were masjid-affiliated (mosques). Respondents reported low engagement in health risk behaviors. The number of trauma experiences was positively related to self-reports of risk behaviors, while pride in American identity and racial/ethnic identity were related to fewer self-reports of risk behaviors. No other variables were significantly associated with risk behaviors. None of the youth reported clinical levels of depression, anxiety, or trauma symptoms. When all findings were examined together, they indicated that young people who were more isolated, had experienced more stressors and had parents who immigrated with less social support were more likely to engage in health risk behaviors. Social Workers are uniquely equipped to identify, assess, and respond to factors related to youth engagement in risk behaviors. Results may support using Problem Behavior Theory, specifically the Protection-Risk Model, to conceptualize risk behavior among Muslim American youth. For example, findings confirmed a relationship between both high support protection and low vulnerability risk with low self-reported risk behaviors. However, findings of this dissertation study are limited due to its small, convenience sample. Future studies should continue to explore factors related to health risk behaviors among Muslim American youth. In particular, studies should recruit youth unaffiliated with mosques, Muslims of other ethnicities, and Muslims who have been in the United States for multiple generations.