How Child Welfare Agency Management Affects Children’s Outcomes

Rebecca Wells, PhD, Principal Investigator

Child welfare agencies are potential brokers to vital services for vulnerable families, yet operate in circumstances that make this function extremely challenging to fulfill. The purpose of this NIMH/NIDA-funded research is to discern how a variety of child welfare agency management practices affect service processes and outcomes. Specifically, Dr. Wells and colleagues are addressing 3 related questions: (1) Do child welfare agency management emphases on measurement and accountability, human resources, change management, and ties to other agencies affect children’s outcomes? (2) Does case management or service comprehensiveness mediate associations between agency management and children’s outcomes? (3) Does service availability moderate associations between ties to other agencies and outcomes? The current analyses entail data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a unique longitudinal, national study of children involved in the US child welfare system. The next study will be a comparative case study that explores questions from the analyses of these secondary data and develops surveys for a subsequent investigation. This research will improve public health by indicating how some aspects of child welfare agency management affect children’s outcomes.