Child welfare organizations: Do specialization and service integration impact placement decisions?

Authors: 

Smith, Carrie
Fluke, John
Fallon, Barbara
Mishna, Faye
Decker Pierce, Barbara

Additional information available for these authors: 
Year of Publication: 
2018
Source: 
Child Abuse and Neglect, 76, 573-582
Abstract: 

The objective of this study was to contribute to the understanding of the child welfare organization by testing the hypothesis that the characteristics of organizations influence decisions made by child protection staff for vulnerable children. The influence of two aspects of organizational structure on the decision to place a child in out-of-home care were examined: service integration and worker specialization. A theoretical framework that integrated the Decision-Making Ecology Framework (Baumann et al., 2011) and Yoo et al. (2007) conceptual framework of organizational constructs as predictors of service effectiveness was tested. Secondary data analysis of the Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect - 2013 (OIS-2013) was conducted. A subsample of 4949 investigations from 16 agencies was included in this study. Given the nested structure of the data, multi-level modelling was used to test the relative contribution of case and organizational factors to the decision to place. Despite the reported differences among child welfare organizations and research that has demonstrated variance in the placement decision as a result of organizational factors, the structure of the organization (i.e., worker specialization and service integration) showed no predictive power in the final models. The lack of variance may be explained by the relatively low frequency of placements during the investigation phase of service, the hierarchical impact of the factors of the DME and the limited information available regarding the structure of child welfare organizations in Ontario. Suggestions for future research are provided.

Type of Publication: 
Journal article
Category: 
Canadian CW research