• The impact of organizational culture and climate in child welfare agencies on outcomes for children involved in the child welfare system: A multi-level analysis of a nationally representative sample

      Goering, Emily Smith; Hopkins, Karen M., 1954- (2019)
      Child welfare organizations in the U.S. are tasked with the overarching goal of protecting children from abuse and neglect. The achievement of this goal has been found to be difficult and some child welfare organizations seem to be more effective at reaching this goal than others. A dearth of empirical literature exists in understanding how child welfare organizational functioning impacts its ability to achieve positive outcomes for the children who come into contact with their local child welfare system. An extensive review of the literature revealed that culture and climate of organizations may play an important role, but the existing research is unclear about the extent and direction of that role. Additionally, methodological issues with the existing studies threaten the validity of the results. The present dissertation builds on existing research and conducts secondary analysis using a nationally representative sample. The study applied theories of organizational social context and ecological model to answer the research question: When controlling for risk factors related to child characteristics and organizational contextual characteristics, to what extent do the culture and climate of the child welfare agency impact child-level outcomes? Using the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Wellbeing (NSCAW II), bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to answer the research question. Results indicate that individual, agency, and local context characteristics impact recurrence of abuse during the study period. At the individual level, living in a poor household and having prior substantiated maltreatment increased the odds of recurrence. At the agency-level, of the six culture and climate variables, only the climate score of functionality had an impact on risk of recurrence. The agency-level local context variable of county child poverty had the largest effect on recurrence and added explained variance to the model. However, both significant agency-level variables did not impact recurrence in the expected direction. Future research should continue to focus on research methods, better conceptualization and measurement of organizational constructs, and utilize an ecological perspective approach.