Caseworkers’ perspectives: Focus group results for Triple P

Date Published

Pinna, K., Lewis, L., Karatekin, C., Lamb-Onyiga, A., Hirilall, A., & Jones S (2015). Evidence-based parenting programs for maltreating parents: Views of child protective services caseworkers. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 9(4), 362-381.

Reviewed by
Nicolette Joh-Carnella
Tara Black
Barbara Fallon

The purpose of this study was to examine the role of child protection service (CPS) caseworkers in the implementation of the Positive Parenting Program, or Triple P, an evidence-based parenting program. The study was conducted with CPS caseworkers in a large metropolitan area in the USA. Caseworkers either completed a full, three day training course in Triple P or received a condensed, three hour overview of the program. CPS caseworkers were then responsible for referring eligible clients to Triple P and maintaining communication with the referred family and Triple P practitioner.

CPS caseworkers were divided into two focus groups to describe their perceptions of Triple P, one for those who received the full three day training (focus group one) and the other for CPS caseworkers who received the condensed, three hour training (focus group two). The total sample was composed of 21 participants, with twelve in focus group one and nine in focus group two.

Results from the focus groups suggest that CPS caseworkers generally do not find Triple P to be useful in treating families involved with the child protection system. Results from both focus groups showed similar levels of concern surrounding Triple P’s ability to account for families’ trauma histories. Some differences in CPS caseworkers’ perceptions of this evidence-based practice emerged depending on their familiarity with Triple P, as measured by the amount of training received. Concerns about cultural sensitivity were more pervasive in focus group two, while concerns about practitioner characteristics were more pervasive in focus group one.

Methodological notes

Focus group theme identification was done through an iterative process, involving both community and university partners; six primary themes were extracted within which some secondary and tertiary themes were identified. The authors note the small sample size as a significant limitation in this study; further, they state that the larger sample in focus group one might have led to more accurate representation of their perceptions. Data were not available to assess how views of Triple P were associated with referral to this service compared to other services in the community or how effective referrals were to Triple P.