Browsing Theses and Dissertations School of Social Work by Subject "Decision Making"
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Alternative Response in Child Welfare: A Mixed Methods Study of Caseworker Decision MakingA family's entrance into the child welfare system begins once a report meets a jurisdiction's definition for child maltreatment. Alternative response (AR), a legislatively mandated policy in Maryland, is an approach to child protective services (CPS) where caseworkers are required to provide a family-centered, strengths-based approach as opposed to making a final determination of abuse/neglect. Once a family begins their trajectory into the child welfare system they are reliant on caseworkers to make the best decisions for them, but these decisions are influenced by multiple factors. This mixed-methods study examined caseworker decision making and the influence child, family, and organizational factors had on recurrence. The quantitative phase of this study used administrative data for 2,871 families from three jurisdictions in the state of Maryland. Using child and caregiver characteristics that are predictive of recurrence, differences were examined between families who received a traditional response (TR) versus an AR. These same characteristics were used to predict which families would receive a subsequent investigation, and among those, what predicted a substantiated recurrence. In the qualitative phase, AR caseworkers participated in focus groups where they were asked about the findings from the quantitative portion of the study as well as other organizational factors that influenced their overall decision making for families. County level differences were found among the TR and AR families for child and caregiver race, maltreatment allegation, Medicaid receipt, and re-investigation. These differences held when the counties were examined individually. The number of children, child gender, and Medicaid receipt predicted a subsequent investigation. Child age, maltreatment allegation, Medicaid receipt, previous investigative finding/response, and county predicted a substantiated recurrence. The findings from the focus groups revealed challenges specific to agency mandates and that caseworkers rarely differentiated their approach between a TR and AR. The results suggest that additional research is needed to fully understand the influence of case factors and organizational context and its impact on family outcomes. Also needed is additional training for caseworkers to fully understand the purpose of AR as well as the processes that place families on an AR track.
Decision-making among philanthropic foundations in the U.S.: Factors that influence international givingPhilanthropic foundations utilize private money for public purposes. U.S. based foundations play an increasingly important role in shaping global agendas and efforts, providing $22.03 billion towards international causes in 2016. As their resources are vital but limited, grant-making foundations are always making decisions aimed at improving the effectiveness and reach of their grant dollars. Understanding the decision-making processes adopted by foundations help identify decision-making patterns, examine donor preferences, and learn about the various factors that affect foundations decisions. This study sought to address the gap in literature on international grant-making decisions by foundations. The research questions of the study were: 1) What factors influence foundations' decision-making processes, their determination of funding priorities or goals, and the philanthropic strategies they employ in their grant making to international civil society organizations? 2) What characteristics of targeted beneficiaries or recipient organizations do foundations consider in making funding decisions? This study used a multiple case study approach to examine international grantmaking in five independent foundations that have offices in mid-Atlantic U.S. Primary data on were collected through in-depth interviews with a key staff member at each foundation. In addition to the interviews, publicly available information about the foundations including web content, reports and publications were used to supplement the data collected. In each of the five case studies, the participants discussed how the grant making practices at their foundations have evolved over time, highlighting that although the core mission of their foundations may remain unchanged, foundations adapt priorities, goals, strategies and decision-making. Factors in the external environment of the foundation that influence decision-making processes include international policies and priorities, U.S. policies, tax regulations, and priorities, local country policies and priorities, grantmaking behavior of peers, and market forces. At the foundation level, leadership and staff, donor motivations, and foundation structure affect decision-making. Foundations also seek to increase impact and fund programs that are a philanthropic fit. Foundations support needy and vulnerable beneficiaries, build institutional capacities, and seek knowledge development. Foundations support grantees based on familiarity and reputation, past experience, and organization size. The implications for theory, research and practice are discussed.