Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Qualitative Service Review as a Learning Strategy for Child Welfare Practice Improvement
by Womack, Bethany G., Ph.D., The University of Alabama, 2017, 152; 10288296
Abstract (Summary)

The mission of public child welfare agencies is to help children grow up in families that can provide safety, permanency and well-being. Child welfare systems are notoriously complex and workloads heavy, but all participate in evaluation with the goal of continuous practice improvement. The Qualitative Service Review (QSR) is a tool designed to provide feedback about case practice and to identify trends influencing practice. Feasibly, QSR cannot be performed on every case, so an important element of its utility is the degree to which workers can apply learning from one case to others. Little is known about frontline workers’ experiences with QSR and how these reviews influence application of QSR generated knowledge and practice. Fourteen frontline workers in three state child welfare agencies participated in individual interviews about their experience with QSR and its influence on their practice. This study uses a qualitative descriptive method to describe perceptions of QSR and practice learning. Findings suggest that workers perceive QSR as a practice improvement strategy as well as an evaluation, that it requires a significant time investment, and that it highlights areas of opportunity where best practice expectations can be articulated more fully. Additional themes about the practice environment emerged. Workers described their emotional investment in practice and their perceptions that multiple systems influence practice. The neoliberal influence on public agencies could be heard in participants’ observations that the child welfare work environment is changing from one that measured performance through interaction with families to one that promotes accountability by data collection. These findings have implications for child welfare practitioners and administrators, researchers, staff responsible for conducting QSR reviews, and social work educators.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Smith, Brenda D.
Commitee: Chilcutt, Alexa, Hopson, Laura M., Nelson-Gardell, Debra, Williamson, Anne R.
School: The University of Alabama
Department: Social Work
School Location: United States -- Alabama
Source: DAI-A 79/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social work, Public administration, Individual & family studies
Keywords: Caseworkers, Child welfare, Evaluation, Family-centered practice
Publication Number: 10288296
ISBN: 978-0-355-35237-5
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