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Child Abuse Investigations: How CPS and Law Enforcement Engage in Collaboration

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Viola W Lindsey
Abstract:
Child welfare social workers (CPS) and law enforcement professionals are the sole professional groups in California assigned the task of investigating child physical and sexual abuse allegations. Both professional groups report that child-well-being is the ultimate outcome desired when addressing the needs of vulnerable and "at risk" children. Despite this shared vision CPS and law enforcement professionals also described competing outcomes that are often contradictory; particularly in how each group characterizes different professional responsibilities in achieving child well-being. For example CPS describes the dual responsibilities of preventing children from further harm while at the same time identifying factors that led to the abuse and providing non-punitive services aimed at preserving and strengthening family ties; including maintaining the children safely in their homes whenever possible. On the other hand law enforcement's view of child abuse as a crime shapes their perception of how things are handled. Law enforcement has the responsibility for collecting criminal evidence that frequently results in the offending parent being prosecuted and spending time in jail, possibly dismantling the family unit. Understanding how these two professional groups collaborate to execute their conflicting, professional responsibilities forms the overall focus of this study. Child welfare social workers and law enforcement professionals were recruited from Riverside and San Bernardino Counties to participate in the study. Theoretical sampling, snowball sampling, and convenience sampling techniques were used to ensure that data was collected from a minimum of 20 participants who were identified as subject matter experts. Data was collected through face-to-face interviews using semi-structured interview guides. Transcribed interviews were entered into the QSR*NVIVO 8 software program for data management and to provide an audit trail. Seven major themes emerged from the data. Findings revealed that CPS and law enforcement professionals do not collaborate; they cooperate and coordinate on an inconsistent basis. Overall, "dissimilar professional standards engendered conflict and negative perceptions of each other producing poor working relationships. However, the research revealed that the working "relationship between the two entities seems to improve when they are co-located/share the same physical workplace. More research is recommended to determine if such working arrangement impacts collaboration. .

Table of Contents ............................................................................................................. . vi

List of Figures ............................................................................................................... ..... xi

List of Tables ......................................................................................................... .... xii

List of Abbreviations ....................................................................................................... x iii

Abstract ...................................................................................................................... ........xv

Chapter 1.

Statement of the Problem …………………………………………………………1

Different Intervention Approaches ....................................................................2 Different Professional Philos ophies and Belief Systems ...................................3 Time Frames ......................................................................................................4 Power Differentials ............................................................................................6 Dissimilar Socialization .....................................................................................8 Differences in Defining and Achieving Child Well-Being ..............................10

Collaboration, Best practices , and Child Well-Being ................................12 Failure to Collaborate – Risk to Child Well-Being ...................................14

Misunderstanding/Misuse of Terms ................................................................16

Cooperative Arrangements .......................................................................17 Coordinated Arrangements ........................................................................19

Research Aims .................................................................................................20

Grounded Theory Background ..................................................................21 Classical or Traditi onal Grounded Theory ................................................22 Constructivist Grounded Theory................................................................23 Grounded Theory Rationale .......................................................................24

vii 2.

Literature Review ………………………………………………………………..28

Concepts of Collaboration ...............................................................................29

Inter-Organizational Collaboration ............................................................29 Interagency Collaboration ..........................................................................31 Interdisciplinary Collaboration ..................................................................33 Inter-professional Collaboration ................................................................34 Multi-Disciplinary Teams ..........................................................................35 Partnerships ................................................................................................38

Collaboration Embedded in Social Work ........................................................41 Child Welfare and Law Enforcement Collaborating .......................................44

Lack of Protocol .........................................................................................49 Inconsistent Cross-Reporting .....................................................................51 Training .....................................................................................................59 Co-Location/Sharing Physical Space .........................................................60 Relationship Building ................................................................................62 Different Approaches .................................................................................64 Different Standards ....................................................................................66

3.

Research Methods ..................................................................................................75

Interview Protocol, IRB Approval, Interview Process, Sample Selection ...........................................................................................................77

Interview Protocol ......................................................................................77 Sample Selection ........................................................................................78 IRB Approval .............................................................................................81 Interview Process .......................................................................................81 Description of Participants and Workplace Setting ..................................84 Coding and Data Analysis .........................................................................90 Rigor and Trustworthiness .........................................................................94

4.

Findings..................................................................................................................98

Different Investiga tive Approaches .................................................................99 Inconsistent Engagement Practices ................................................................103 Challenges in Collaborating ...........................................................................115

Lack of Understanding of each other’s Roles and Responsibilities ........115 Different Standards ..................................................................................119 Different Languages .................................................................................121

viii Response Time, Time Waiting ................................................................125

Law Enforcement Officers’ Views of Social Workers ..................................126 Social Workers’ Views of Law Enforcement Officers ..................................129 Complementary Roles ....................................................................................131 Relationship Building ....................................................................................134

5.

Discussion ............................................................................................................140

Theoretical Implications ................................................................................144 Policy Implications ........................................................................................149 Limitations .....................................................................................................153 Conclusion and Future Directions .................................................................154

References .................................................................................................................... ....157

Appendices A.

Assembly Bill No. 1942, Chapter 729 .................................................................176 B.

San Francisco Police Department Protocol – Children of Arrested Parents ........179 C.

San Jose – Santa Clara Materials - Joint Police - Social Worker Child Abuse and Response Protocol ..............................................................................182 D.

Letter of Invitation to Participate in Study ..........................................................189 E.

Institutional Review Bo ard Approval/Extension .................................................190 F.

Individual Telephone Script .................................................................................191 G.

Interview Guide – Child Welfare ........................................................................192 H.

Interview Guide – Law Enforcement ...................................................................194 I.

Informed Consent Form .......................................................................................196 J.

NVivo Matrix Coding Structure ..........................................................................198

ix FIGURES

Figures Page

1.

CPS Social Workers and Law Enforcement Professions by age ...........................85 2.

CPS Social Workers and Law Enforcement Professions by Education ................86 3.

CPS Social Workers and Law Enforcement Professions by Length of Time on the Job ...............................................................................................................88 4.

NVivo Sample Relationship Model .....................................................................203 5.

NVivo Sample Relationship Model ...................................................................204

x TABLE

Tables Page

1.

Relationship of Police Involvement in CPS Cases ................................................55 2.

Differences in Out-of-Home (O-H-C) Placements based on CPS/DCFS and Law Enforcement’s (LE) Invol vement as First Responders ...........................69 3.

NVivo Matrix Coding Structure ..........................................................................198

xi ABBREVIATIONS

AA Associates of Art ACF Administration of Children and Families ASFA Adoptions Safe Family Act BA Batchelor of Arts BS Batchelor of Science CAC Children Assessment Center/Children Advocacy Center Cal-SWEC California Social Work Education CBX Children’s Bureau Express CPS Child Protective Services DCFS Department of Children and Family Services DEC Drug-Endangered Children DHHS Department of H ealth and Human Services DOJ Department of Justice DPSS Department of P ublic Social Services ER Emergency Response FM Family Maintenance FR Family Reunification IACP International Association of Chiefs of Police IR Immediate Response IRB Institutional Review Board LLU Loma Linda University MDT Multi-Disciplinarian Team

xii MOU Memorandum of Understanding MSW Master’s of Social Work NASW National Associati on of Social Workers NGO Nongovernmental organization NSCAW The National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well- Being OSR Office of Sponsored Research PC Penal Code PRWORA Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act 1996 RPD Riverside Police Department SARB School Area Review Board USDOJNIJ United States Department of Justice. National Institute of Justice WIC Welfare and Institution Code

xiii ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION

Child Abuse Investigations: How CPS and Law Enforcement Engage in Collaboration by Viola W. Lindsey Doctor of Philosophy, Graduate Program in Social Policy and Social Research Loma Linda University, June 2011 Dr. Kim Freeman, Chairperson

Child welfare social workers (CPS) and law enforcement professionals are the sole professional groups in California assigne d the task of inves tigating child physical and sexual abuse allegations. Bo th professional groups report that child-well-being is the ultimate outcome desired when addressing the needs of vulnerable and “at risk” children. Despite this shared vision CPS and law enforcement professionals also described competing outcomes that are often contra dictory; particularly in how each group characterizes different prof essional responsibilities in achieving child well-being. For example CPS describes the dual responsibilitie s of preventing children from further harm while at the same time identifying factor s that led to the ab use and providing non- punitive services aimed at preserving and strengthening family ties; including maintaining the children safely in their homes whenever possible. On the other hand law enforcement’s view of child abuse as a crim e shapes their perception of how things are handled. Law enforcement has the responsibil ity for collecting criminal evidence that frequently results in the offending parent being prosecuted and spending time in jail, possibly dismantling the family unit. Unders tanding how these tw o professional groups

xiv collaborate to execute their conflicting, pr ofessional responsibilities forms the overall focus of this study. Child welfare social workers and law en forcement professionals were recruited from Riverside and San Bernardino Counties to participate in the study. Theoretical sampling, snowball sampling, and convenience sa mpling techniques were used to ensure that data was collected from a minimum of 20 participants w ho were identified as subject matter experts. Data was collected through f ace-to-face interviews using semi-structured interview guides. Transcribed interviews we re entered into the QSR*NVIVO 8 software program for data management and to provide an audit trail. Seven major themes emerged from the data. Findings revealed that CPS and law enfo rcement professionals do not collaborate; they cooperate and coordinate on an inconsistent basis. Ov erall, dissimilar professional standards engendered conflict and negative perceptions of each other producing poor working relationships. However, the research revealed that the working relationship between the two entities seems to improve when they are co-lo cated/share the same physical workplace. More research is r ecommended to determine if such working arrangement impacts collaboration. .

1 CHAPTER ONE STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Child welfare social workers (CPS) and law enforcement officers are required by statute to collaborate to i nvestigate child physical and se xual abuse. The Administration of Children and Families (ACF) maintains th at working in a coordinated effort both reduces trauma to the child and enhances the likelihood of a more positive outcome for the family as a whole. This chapter empha sizes how a largely deficient standard of practice prevents the two agencies from working in a meaningful and collaborative manner to meet the needs of c lients. Missing from the standa rd of practice is a protocol that both delineate roles and responsib ilities as well as providing guidelines for intervention strategies, and standard operati onal procedures (Ivery, 2008; Meyers, 1993; Williamson, Bell, Dwyer & Frierson, 2004). A protocol with clearly defined roles and responsibilities in place is necessary to reduce the likelihood that conflict during collaboration will occur especially when agencies with conflicting professional philosophies are involved (Goldman, Salus, Wolcott & Kennedy, 2003; Richards, 2002). Absent such a protocol, the two entiti es have traditionally approached an investigation from very different perspectiv es, creating conflict and biases in their working relationships. For example, child welf are professionals are asked to assess such factors as child and family psychosocial f unctioning and well-being while determining if abuse has occurred, whether it is safe to leav e the children in the home, and the likelihood of the abuse occurring again. In other wo rds, social workers are charged with safeguarding the well-being of families a nd children, neither imposing punishment nor becoming an arm of the law in the proce ss of doing so (Galva, Atchinson & Levey,

2 2005). On the other hand, law enforcement pr ofessionals are respons ible for collecting and preserving criminal evidence for po ssible prosecution (Barnes, Carpenter & Dickinson, 2000; Child Abuse Preven tion Handbook, 2000; Mason, 1991; Pence & Wilson, 1992). Succinctly stated law enforcem ent’s legal mandate is to the criminal justice system (Manning, 1977). In a broader sense, the Criminal Justice system is responsible to society as a whole. The Ch ild Protective Services (CPS) system is responsible to its clients, th e child victim or family (S trouds, Martens & Barker, 2000). Thus, differences in professional responsibil ities may be viewed as the impetus for conflict between CPS social workers and law enforcement officers. However, factors such as different interventi on strategies, different profe ssional philosophies and belief systems, different time frames, power differentia ls, dissimilar socializa tion, differences in defining and achieving child well-being, and mi sunderstanding/misuse of terms such as cooperative arrangements, coor dinated arrangements and collaboration continue to contribute to ongoing conflict be tween these two professiona l groups. Each of these areas of conflict will be briefly discussed.

Different Intervention Approaches Research studies report that child we lfare social workers feared that law enforcement officers used heavy-handed, puniti ve tactics, making it difficult for them to protect children and unite families (Cross, Finkelhor, & Ormrod, 2005). Law enforcement professionals, on the other hand, we re concerned that ch ild welfare social workers interfered with eviden ce collection and criminal investigations which interfered with bringing the perpetrato r to justice (Cross et al., 2005) . Without a working protocol

3 delineating roles and responsibilities, strict adherence to professional philosophies and beliefs systems became the norm, resulting in increased conflict.

Different Professional Philo sophies and Belief Systems Dissimilarity in professional philosophi es and belief systems around the matter of punishment versus treatment continues to be a major source of conflict between CPS social workers and law enforcement officers. Specifically, law enforcement professionals tend to emphasize punishment of the offende r who perpetrated abuse against a child while child welfare social workers tend to emphasize providing mental health treatment not only for the offender but for the family unit as a whole (Besharov, 1987; Cross, Finkelhor & Ormrod, 2005; Se dlak, Schultz, Wells, Lyons, Doueck, & Gragg, 2006). Regarding punishment CPS social workers arti culated that putting th e offending parent in jail was not necessarily the remedy for protec ting child safety and well-being. In fact, social workers noted that arresting the o ffending parent could pot entially be more harmful to the child’s safety and well-bei ng, especially in cases where an offending parent was released from ja il after paying a bail or fi ne. Similar viewpoints were expressed by both Fraser and Paulsen.

According to Fraser (as cited in Besharov, 1987), From a purely practical point of view , if the parent is convicted and incarcerated it is usually for a short pe riod of time. When he is released from jail, there is abso lutely nothing stopping him fr om returning to his abusive pattern of behavior. The conditi ons which precipitated the initial abuse will still be present and may give rise to other instances of abuse.

Criminal proceedings, according to Pa ulsen (as cited in Besharov, 1987), may punish an offender who deserves punishment, but it may also divide rather than unite a

4 family, creating harm for the child in the long run. Further ex acerbating the conflict between CPS social workers and law enforcem ent officers are the conflicting time frames under which these two profe ssional groups operate.

Time Frames Federal and State policies mandate that CPS and law enforcement professionals collaborate to investigate child abuse. However g overnmental mandates often do not offer guidelines for establishing collabor ative protocols (Child Abuse Prevention Handbook, 2000; Wiklund, 2006). As an example, many law enforcement agencies do not distinguish between child sexual abuse o ccurring within the hom e (familial) and child sexual abuse occurring outside the home. La w enforcement categorizes all sexual abuse referrals as sexual assault cases and treats them as such whether the offender is a caretaker or not. Yet, this di stinction is essential as Welf are and Institution Codes (WIC) dictate specific timeframes in which CPS has to conduct, and complete an in-home investigation of child sexua l abuse allegations ranging fr om 24 hours up to 30 days. WIC also specify timeframes ranging from 12 to 18 mo nths to reunify the family in the event the investigative outc ome resulted in the child bei ng removed from the home. Stroud, Martens and Barker (2000), in a study of 496 child sexual abuse cases referred for criminal prosecution, found that it took an aver age of 378 days for the prosecutor to make a criminal determination from the time law enforcement conducted the forensic interview in these cases. In a similar study, Martone, Jaudes and Cavins ( 1996) found that it took the criminal court system 12 to 18 months to make criminal decisi ons in child sexual abuse cases. The conflict in time frames betw een CPS and the criminal justice system

5 leads not only to further disruption in fam ilies’ lives, but increases the tension and conflict between child welf are social workers and law enforcement officers.

On the other hand, Faller and Henry (2000) demonstrated that better outcomes resulted for children and families when CPS i nvestigations and criminal investigations occurred within the same time frames, and when case disposition for both investigating entity occurred within the same time frame as well. Making disposition outcomes on the dependency and criminal court cases within similar timeframes reduced the likelihood that children would be reunifi ed with their parents only to end up being removed again based on timeframe differences. Faller’s a nd Henry’s (2000) study was conducted in a Midwestern state involving 322 sexual abus e cases, 184, or 57% of which CPS was involved. The study was a community collabora tive arrangement made between CPS and law enforcement’s responsibility for investig ating caretaker and non-caretaker offenders. The community protocol specified that abus e allegations where caretakers were the abusers or offenders, or caretakers failed to protect children from abusers, required an initial investigation by CPS. Law enforcem ent participated in the investigation upon CPS’ request. The protocol further speci fied that abuse allegations involving non- caretakers fell under the jurisdiction of law en forcement. CPS had no responsibility in investigating allegations of abuse involving non-caretaker offenders . In distinguishing between in-home caretaker offenders and non-caretaker offenders, the protocol permitted CPS and law enforcement to adhere to CPS’ statutory guidelines dictated by WIC when investigating in-home caretaker offenders. Conc urrent investigations and dispositions in this study represented an example of a ba lanced relationship in collaboration and decision-making. Absent a defined prot ocol, it is not unco mmon for mandated

6 interactions to be intense and often imbalanced in favor of one of the agencies, creating a power differential (Aldrich, 1976).

Power Differentials Along with conflict between timelines, gove rnment mandates also do not address or offer guidelines for arriving at consensus or handling power and authority differences (Cooley, 1994; Rist, 1982; Sanders, Franci s, Lum & Schiada, 2004; Sandfort, 1999).

Alford (2002) argues that “government often fails to articulate crisp mandates for public agencies, leaving their positions vague, internally contradictory, or simply unaddressed” (p. 339). Wiklund (2006) suggests that vague ness is designed to place emphasis more on the appearance that collaboration is occurring rather than putting fo rth sincere efforts and activities to make collaborat ion a reality. Currie and S uhomlinova (2006) go a step further proposing that vagueness in govern mental regulations often strengthen the strained boundaries between organizations, which in turn, run ag ainst the logic of collaboration. As a result, w ithout a working protocol, agen cies mandated to implement collaborative efforts are left on their own to interpret and decide what constitutes collaboration and what does not (Brooks et al., 1994; Cross, Fi nkelhor & Ormrod, 2005; Sandfort, 1999). A description of roles and responsibilities of child we lfare and law enforcement professionals, as outlined in the Califor nia’s Child Abuse Prevention Handbook (2000), offers a perfect example of vagueness in defi ning collaborative act ivities. Missing from the mandate was a prescription or protocol fo r how the collaborative process plays out. The description in part states , social workers perform vital roles in providing both crisis

7 intervention and ongoing services to protect children and families in difficulty. These services include conducting the initial assessment of suspected child abuse and neglect (Child Abuse Prevention Handbook, 2000). Law enforcement, however, decides whether to take the child into temporary custody, arre st the alleged perpetrator, seek filing of criminal charges, or refer the case to ch ild welfare services or another appropriate agency. The very nature of the descripti on puts CPS and law enforcement at odds with each other in the sense that no directions are provided for working out differences in philosophies and goals, or for addressing differe nt intervention stra tegies for resolving the abuse matter. In this case, the California policy itsel f renders CPS an unequal partner. True collaboration, according to Lane and Turner (1999), implies equal power and therefore consensus. Yet, in this case, law enforcemen t is the decision-maker; CPS is responsible for carrying the case forward through the juve nile court process and justifying the reason for removing the child from the home. This responsibility is relegated to CPS social workers even though the social worker may dete rmine that an alternative course of action is equally as effective. Additionally, the polic y as it is stated not only indicates inequity, but promote power differential as well. As noted by Lasker, Weiss and Miller (2001), power differentials undermine collaborative relationships since they dictate whose opinions are considered valid, and who has ultimate authority over decision-making. Further, Hingley (2005) sugge sts that power imbalance te nds to erode trust and is therefore detrimental to sustaining effective working relationships.

Despite these problems, there are circum stances in which social workers and law enforcement professionals are more alike than they are dissimilar. For example, in their

8 roles as first responders, both CPS social workers and law enforcement professionals, alike, were the least trained and the least se asoned staff in their re spective organizations (Arcuri, Gunn, & Lester, 1979; Alpert & Noble, 2009). Both were viewed as street-level bureaucrats or local policymakers in that they deal with day-to-day situations in the performance of their duties. In their daily interactions with the public both have the authority, but not necessarily th e knowledge and skills, to in terpret and apply the law to the circumstance at hand and to make judgm ents about the criminality or behavioral standards of those with whom they come in contact with (Arcuri, Gunn, & Lester, 1979; Sandfort, 1999; Smith & Donovan, 2003). It woul d therefore seem logical that having discretion (law enforcement), coupled with the propensity to consult (social workers) would make for a sensible re cipe in which collaboration would occur. Rather than complementing each other’s roles, differences in training and socializa tion create conflict and barriers to professi onal collaboration.

Dissimilar Socialization

Differences in socialization and traini ng are part of what distinguishes one profession from another. Without the proper protocols in place, these differences become a source of conflict rather than a means for complementing each other. The decision- making process is often cited as one majo r source of conflict between CPS and law enforcement. As an example, consultation with peers and supervisors is considered to be one of the major ethical responsibilities in de cision-making in social work training (Cross et al., 2005; NASW Code of Et hics, 2008). CPS staff in Rive rside and San Bernardino counties are often required to consult with s upervisors prior to removing a child from the

9 home. Different from social workers, law enforcement officers work independently, and with a significant level of discretion in decision-making available to them (Alpert & Noble, 2009; Smith, Novak, Frank & Lowenkamp, 2005). Law enforcement professionals working in the field typically work alone where access to supervision is not readily accessible. Law enforcement officer s are expected to assess situations and exercise judgment as to when and how th ey should use their power. They have the discretion to decide at the scen e of an investigation whether to detain, arrest, and or use force to gain compliance (Alpert & Noble, 2009; Cross et al., 2005; Mendias & Kehoe, 2006). In exercising their discre tion, it is worth noting that la w enforcement professionals responding to low level violations of the law ar e not obliged to arrest every offender they encounter. Warnings or other means of resolv ing the problem may be just as effective (Mendias & Keho, 2006). For example, as part of ethical rules of conduct established by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in 1957, law enforcement officers are expected to do the right thing at the right time in the right way and for the right reason when exercising disc retionary powers (Grant, 2002). Use of force and/or deception to gain compliance was another difference between social workers and law enforcement officer s. Social workers are taught to be non- judgmental, have empathy, and take the path of least restrictiv e intervention when working with children and families. Prejudgment of clients on the part of social workers is considered to be a violation of social work ethical standards (NASW Code of ethics, 2008). On the other hand, law enforcement professi onals are “taught to present things in the light most favorable to thei r side, and to zealously repres ent that viewpoint even if it means being less sensitive or more intr usive” (Roby, 2001, p. 309). Additionally, law

10 enforcement is not only taught, but is permitte d by the courts in certain circumstances, and always with the confines of the law, to manipulate and deceive during interrogations in an attempt to elic it confessions and admissions to cr ime to support thei r views (Alpert & Noble, 2009). However in the performance of their duties, the police code of conduct, in conjunction with the law enforcement code of ethics, provide mandates that require law enforcement officers to act impartiall y in exercising discretion; law enforcement officers are expected to maintain confiden tiality, integrity, and a professional demeanor at all times (Alpert & Noble, 2009; Grant, 2002). Interpersonal communication skills that emphasize listening comprised another area of difference between social wo rk and law enforcement professionals. Social work training emphasizes the importa nce of active liste ning. Conversely, law enforcement officers are trained to take char ge and give orders, which can result in preconceived ideas and premature responses (Birzer & Tannenhill, 2001). Although CPS social workers and law enforcement officers differ widely in philosophies and belief systems, the two professional groups share a common goal of ensuring child safety and child well-being to the extent possible. Howeve r, different approaches for achieving child well-being present another source of conflict in the collaborative relationship between the two professional groups.

Differences in Defining a nd Achieving Child Well-Being

Traditionally, the concept of child well-b eing in child welfare emphasizes safety and permanency. Risk factors and family defici encies were critical components in family assessments, and informing permanency decisions. Guided by legislation, the concept of

11 child well-being was limited to making sure children were safe from physical harm and, receiving medical care along with bei ng fed, clothed, housed and educated. Federal guidelines were developed to allow child welf are social workers and local court systems to move children who could not be reunified with family through the child welfare system as quickly as possible.

The number of adoptions was the primary outcome by which child well-being was measured (Lou et al., 2008; National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSC AW) study retrieved 2010). Federal statutes were less concerned about children’s losses that imp acted their social, psychological and emotional well being (Brooks et al., 1994). With the passage of the Federal Adoptions and Safe Family Act (ASFA) of 1997 the child welfare system shifted its primary focus from protecting children from physical harm to working with family to retain pare ntal responsibility and care for their children. The conventional wisdom maintained that ch ildren are best cared for by their parents whenever possible (Wattam, 1997). ASFA expanded the concep t of child well-being by requiring states to assess family capacity and ability to provide for their children’s needs from a strength perspective. Instead of viewi ng the family as a pathological system with deficiencies in skills and abilities, child welfare social workers were mandated to consider family coping skills, knowledge, re sourcefulness, and willingness to grow and change. An underlying assumption of the strengths perspective is that families are not only in the best position to identify their prob lems they also have the solutions to their problems. Thus a major focus of the strength perspective in child welfare is collaboration between the social worker and the family to define the problems, developing goals and

12 strategies for resolving the problems, a nd identifying desired outcomes (GlenMaye & Early, 2000).

With the goal of balancing deficit- based assessments with strength-based assessments, ASFA charged the child we lfare system (CWS) with both ensuring children’s physical safety, as well as providing evidence of positive outcomes. Positive outcomes included protecting children from futu re risk along with maintaining emotional and psychological safety (Anglin, 2002). A lthough physical safety is commonly thought of as the most basic component of child well -being, there was a recognition that attention to education, health, as well as social, em otional and psychological needs was equally as important for children to grow up to be heal thy and contributing adults (Kivnick, Jefferys & Heier, 2003). As the child welfare perspe ctive of child well-being has gravitated toward a more strengths based perspective and away from its traditional views, law enforcement has not kept the same pace . Well-being from law enforcement’s perspective continues to mean removing children from physical harm, and punishment and prosecution of the offending parent (Wile y, 2009). This change in child welfare perspective has intensified the conflict be tween child welfare social workers and law enforcement officers. Regardless of the di fferences in professional perspectives, a collaborative effort on the part of both gr oups is necessary for child well-being to be achieved.

Full document contains 218 pages
Abstract: Child welfare social workers (CPS) and law enforcement professionals are the sole professional groups in California assigned the task of investigating child physical and sexual abuse allegations. Both professional groups report that child-well-being is the ultimate outcome desired when addressing the needs of vulnerable and "at risk" children. Despite this shared vision CPS and law enforcement professionals also described competing outcomes that are often contradictory; particularly in how each group characterizes different professional responsibilities in achieving child well-being. For example CPS describes the dual responsibilities of preventing children from further harm while at the same time identifying factors that led to the abuse and providing non-punitive services aimed at preserving and strengthening family ties; including maintaining the children safely in their homes whenever possible. On the other hand law enforcement's view of child abuse as a crime shapes their perception of how things are handled. Law enforcement has the responsibility for collecting criminal evidence that frequently results in the offending parent being prosecuted and spending time in jail, possibly dismantling the family unit. Understanding how these two professional groups collaborate to execute their conflicting, professional responsibilities forms the overall focus of this study. Child welfare social workers and law enforcement professionals were recruited from Riverside and San Bernardino Counties to participate in the study. Theoretical sampling, snowball sampling, and convenience sampling techniques were used to ensure that data was collected from a minimum of 20 participants who were identified as subject matter experts. Data was collected through face-to-face interviews using semi-structured interview guides. Transcribed interviews were entered into the QSR*NVIVO 8 software program for data management and to provide an audit trail. Seven major themes emerged from the data. Findings revealed that CPS and law enforcement professionals do not collaborate; they cooperate and coordinate on an inconsistent basis. Overall, "dissimilar professional standards engendered conflict and negative perceptions of each other producing poor working relationships. However, the research revealed that the working "relationship between the two entities seems to improve when they are co-located/share the same physical workplace. More research is recommended to determine if such working arrangement impacts collaboration. .