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Impact of Organizational Environment on the Likelihood That Social Workers Will Report Child Maltreatment

NCJ Number
Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma Volume: 15 Issue: 1 Dated: 2007 Pages: 1-18
Vicki Ashton
Date Published
18 pages
This study examined the impact of organizational factors on social workers' decision to report child maltreatment to child protective services (CPS).
Study findings were mixed. Most agency characteristics were not linked to social workers' reporting patterns for child maltreatment. The only agency characteristics significantly associated with social workers' reporting of child maltreatment were the existence of an explicit agency mandate to report child maltreatment, the presence of negative agency sanctions for not reporting child maltreatment, and the degree to which workers participated in the daily decisions regarding their clients. The measured agency characteristics that had no effect on child-maltreatment reporting were agency size, funding, client population, services provided, agency supports for facilitating reporting, the availability of external resources, and social workers' perception of CPS. The latter finding differs from that of previous studies, which have found that social workers' perceptions of the practices and effectiveness of CPS in dealing with child maltreatment do influence social workers' practices in reporting child maltreatment. Possible reasons for this difference are discussed. The author advises that instituting an explicit mandate to report child maltreatment is the most effective agency intervention for enhancing reporting. The presence of a mandate to report child maltreatment stimulates workers to advise clients about reporting procedures at the initial phase of the helping process. Study data were collected with a mailed printed questionnaire sent to 4,194 social workers randomly selected from a list of the members of the New York City chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. A total of 2,112 individuals responded to the questionnaire. The sample of 520 respondents selected for the study were those who indicated that they were employed in agencies serving families and/or children and who submitted complete questionnaires. 4 tables, 1 figure, and 39 references


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