Statewide Descriptive Results: First Report



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PIP 1A.5.1 Engaging Families: Values and Beliefs Scale


Engaging Families: Values and Beliefs Scale (PIP 1A.5.1)

Kentucky Department for Community Based Services

Statewide Descriptive Results: First Report

June 10, 2010
Executive Summary
The Federal Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) of June 2008 identified areas in need of improvement for the Kentucky Department of Community Based Services (DCBS). In response to the CFSR, Kentucky developed a Program Improvement Plan (PIP) that was finalized and approved with a begin date of March 1, 2010. The PIP Theme One goal was to enhance family involvement with DCBS by reinforcing the agency philosophy. Because the values of DCBS staff are considered a prime driver of how families are engaged, the PIP included a one-time survey of staff on their values and beliefs; the results will be used to craft messaging, training, SOP, and/or other changes needed to achieve the goal.

The survey was designed based on a literature review and suggestions for item content from all DCBS CFSP/PIP workgroups and regional staff. The survey link was disseminated via email to all staff on April 20, 2010 and closed on May 11, 2010; 989 responded for a 51.5% response rate. A factor analysis uncovered six domains within the scale with adequate to good reliability coefficients in each domain. The results of the survey are reported as simple frequencies to begin the process of using the results; results are organized by the six domains with the most prevalent responses displayed here.


Beliefs and Values on Family and Youth Capacity

  • 85.5% disagreed/ strongly disagreed “The families that I serve are basically all the same”

  • 84.6% disagreed/ strongly disagreed “Working with community partners takes more time and effort than it is worth”

  • 78.3% disagreed/ strongly disagreed “Parents who abuse substances will work harder on their case plan if we remove their children”

  • 78.1% disagreed/strongly disagreed “Fathers often make the family situation worse”

  • 70.9% disagreed/ strongly disagreed “Teens in foster care do not want to be adopted”

  • 69.3% disagreed/ strongly disagreed “Most children/ youth are too young to really know what they need”

  • 68.1% disagreed/ strongly disagreed “Because the family cannot see things clearly, it is best that DCBS staff determine the case plan tasks”

  • 63.9% responded that most parents/ families finish their work with DCBS with more strengths than barriers

  • 67.7% disagreed/ strongly disagreed “Parents in prison do not deserve visits with their children”*

  • 56.3% responded that relatives of CPS families are part of the solution rather than part of the problem

  • 55.9% agreed/ strongly agreed “Unless a family admits their errors or troubles, they are not ready for change”

  • 54.1% disagreed/ strongly disagreed “ “The apple does not fall far from the tree is true about” is true about relatives of most DCBS families”

  • 50.2% responded most parents/ families served by DCBS come with more barriers than strengths.

  • 45.0% of respondents indicated parents that abuse or neglect children want to change more than they resist change*

  • 39.7% agreed/ strongly agreed “Families are doing the best they can at the moment”*

  • 37.6% disagreed/ strongly disagreed “ Finding adoptive homes for teens is nearly impossible”


Beliefs and Values on Empowering Others

  • 97.9% of respondents agreed/ strongly agreed “Seeing families and children improve or make progress is satisfying”

  • 91.1% of respondents agreed/ strongly agreed “If we terminate the parent’s rights, then we need to find permanent connection for the child”

  • 86.6% agreed/ strongly agreed “DCBS workers should monitor and guide services for children placed with PCC agencies (foster homes and residential settings)”

  • 84.6% disagreed/ strongly disagreed “The families that I serve are basically all the same”*

  • 79.5% of respondents agreed/ strongly agreed “When children enter OOHC, it is vital to consider multiple permanency options”

  • 78.5% of staff surveyed agreed/ strongly agreed “I think that peer support groups might be helpful to CPS families”*

  • 75.1% of staff surveyed agreed/strongly agreed “Families fail when they are confused by their case plan”

  • 72.8% disagreed/ strongly disagreed “Most adolescents are capable of making a transition to adult life without DCBS assistance”*

  • 66.7% agreed/strongly agreed “Families fail when they have to wait too long to get the services they need”*

  • 62% indicated that relatives of CPS families need preparation rather than being fully prepared

  • 55.7% of respondents indicated that progress for youth with status behaviors is achieved through family treatment as opposed to youth treatment


Causal Beliefs

  • 58.5% of respondents disagreed/ strongly disagreed “Engaging families in decisions or case planning takes more time than P & P workers have”*

  • 52.6% of respondents agreed/ strongly agreed “The families/ parents of children in out-of-home care (OOHC) are the primary clients”

  • 42.7 % disagreed/ strongly disagreed “Workers make decisions about families based on what they think the courts want or will do”

  • 42.7% of respondents agreed/ strongly agreed “If it weren’t for my luck and circumstances, I could be a client of DCBS”

  • 43.5% agreed/strongly agreed “Families fail when they have too many providers”

  • 41.5 % of staff surveyed agreed/strongly agreed “Workers prioritize children and families in out-of-home care cases over in-home care cases”


Beliefs and values on Out-of-Home Care

  • 52.5% agreed/ strongly agreed “I believe that DCBS foster parents are teachers and models for birth parents”*

  • 48.6% of DCBS staff surveyed were neutral/ not sure that “Children are safer in foster care than with parents”*

  • 46.8% disagreed/strongly disagreed “Relative/ Kinship Care placements require less time than DCBS foster care placements”*

  • 45.3% agreed/ strongly agreed “I believe that Private (PCC) foster parents are teachers and models for birth parents”


Professional Work Values

  • 88.0% agreed/ strongly agreed “Families want DCBS to be direct and honest with them”

  • 74.1% indicated their job in DCBS is to more to provide leadership rather than follow others.

  • 74.0% agreed/strongly agreed “My supervisor reinforces values that help me work with families”

  • 68.6% indicated CPS workers were more facilitators rather than experts

  • 67.8% agreed/strongly agreed “My work in DCBS is personally rewarding”

  • 59.7% of indicated their job was to engage the family rather than ensure family compliance

  • 51.7% of staff surveyed responded that their job was to coordinate services rather than provide services


Conditions for Removing Children

  • Survey respondents were asked to respond to 7 different scenarios as to how likely removal would be under each

  • The options given were; Almost Always Remove, Often Remove, Maybe Remove, and Almost Never Remove

  • Average scores were calculated from the survey responses to gauge staffs’ beliefs around conditions for removing children

These rankings are based on average scores calculated from survey responses


More Likely







A sexual offender lives in the home*




Newborn tests positive for illegal drug-substances*




Both parents test positive for illegal drug-substances*




Woman fails to file an EPO or allows perpetrator in the home after a DVO is ordered







Child is witness to domestic violence




Following reunification, any new allegation or instance of non-compliance




Unstable housing, parents are living in a shelter or “here, there, or anywhere

Less likely




*Questions marked with an asterisk (*) indicate that a statistically significant difference was found in responses between the regions. (p <=.05). Regional breakouts for these items will be available later for work group discussions.



Written by: Ruth Huebner, PhD and Chris Cordell

Date: June 10, 2010


  1. Background and Research Design

Family engagement with child welfare professionals is an interpersonal and reciprocal process based on the beliefs, values, attitudes and expectations of both parties. Family engagement is also an outcome or dynamic state where the family and the child welfare professional agree upon a course of action and work together to ensure child safety and strengthen parental capacity. The focus on family engagement is in contrast to the historical public child welfare prescriptive approach where child welfare professionals and the courts are considered the experts in designing services and case plans to address complex family issues. The Federal Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) encourages family engagement (Kemp, Marcenko, Hoagwood & Vesneski, 2009) and measures this directly on Item 18 (Child and Family Involvement in Case Planning) and indirectly on a number of items such as worker visits with parents (Item 20), services to the family to prevent removal (Item 3), and summary scores under Well-Being 1 (Families have enhanced capacity to care for their children’s needs). To date, no state has achieved conformity with Item 18, suggesting that the paradigm shift needed for engaging families is difficult for all and rooted in the values and beliefs surrounding child welfare work rather than a lack of skill or desire.


In Kentucky, The Federal Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) of June 2008 identified areas of need of improvement including all items under well-being one (Items 17-20). Well-being one was judged to be the area most in need of improvement. In response, Kentucky developed a Program Improvement Plan (PIP) that was finalized and approved with a begin date of March 1, 2010. Theme 1 of the PIP focuses on enhancing family involvement and capacity to provide for their children’s needs. In developing the PIP, we identified the beliefs and values of DCBS (Department for Community Based Services) as a potential barrier to engaging families. For example, workers may believe that families have little personal strength and thus fail to ask for their ideas or reinforce their strengths. Extensive research demonstrates that family-centered intervention is more effective than engaging the child or parents alone (e.g., Kumper & Alvarado, 2002) or focusing just on the presenting problem; a family-centered approach produces more lasting results (Ripple & Zigler, 2002). Consequently, strategy 1A.5 is to reinforce agency philosophy to focus on strengths to guide engagement, service provision and on-going work with families.
To begin the efforts to enhance family involvement, the PIP included a one-time measurement of staff beliefs and values. In response to this need, the Family Engagement: Values and Beliefs Scale (Huebner, Webb & Durbin, 2010) was developed. The scale was developed in part based on a literature review and a similar beliefs scale administered to staff in 2002 where stronger beliefs in client capacity for change and valuing of empowerment was associated with higher employee satisfaction (Huebner, 2002). Previous research suggests that staff beliefs about clients is associated with different outcomes with more positive beliefs in capacity to change associated with better employment, empowerment, and quality of life outcomes among the clients they served (Casper, Oursler, Schmidt, & Gill, 2002). Similarly, the longer that Comprehensive Family Services (an initiative reinforcing family-centered values) was in place, the higher overall client satisfaction and sense of family safety and security because of their work with the agency (Huebner, Jones, Miller, Custer & Critchfield, 2006). Based on this research, a base group of items was developed to measure beliefs about overall client capacity for change. Altman’s (2008) recent qualitative study on differences in perception between clients and workers in child welfare was used to develop specific items about the reasons for family struggles and the need for honesty, a sense of urgency, and vigilance on the case. Items that reflected the intent of the CFSR were also incorporated into the initial draft of the scale.
I.A. Scale and Research Design
The initial draft of items was developed and refined through a series of work groups, meetings and focus groups within DCBS Protection and Permanency. Deputy Commissioner James and DCBS leadership reviewed an earlier draft of the survey and supported the intent and proposed process for surveying staff. The survey was reviewed by the development team over several drafts, reviewed by all Service Region Administrators (SRA) and CQI specialists, and pilot tested by 9 CPS specialists. Input from these reviewers was used to refine the survey questions.
The items were written and then scaled using semantic differential scales, 5-point rating scales, and 4-point forced choice questions. In the final section, staff picked five words to portray how families are engaged. This final question was designed to tap into the explanatory analysis that is often used to uncover beliefs (Seligman, 1990) but an open-ended question was deemed too hard to score, so 20 words were chosen by the authors. Respondents were asked to select 5 words that best described ways to engage families. In the final stage of development each question was reviewed carefully to eliminate wording or items that asked about practices specified in SOP or with an obvious response that would be considered politically correct. The intent of the scale was to:

  1. Obtain information from staff on their values and beliefs not specific understanding of policy or practices.

  2. Based on this information, to develop training, policy recommendations and other supports to help align DCBS staff values and beliefs to enhance their capacity to engage youth and families in case planning and case processes. This is the second phase of the project (1A.5.4 – 1A.5.6)

The final scale included sections as follows: demographic section (6 items), Attitudes and beliefs using semantic differential scaling (10 items), general attitudes (29 items) and attitudes about adolescents measured on a 5-point rating scale (4 items), conditions for warranting child removal measured on a 4-point forced choice scale (7 items), and an effective traits section requiring choosing 5 of 20 words to depict how to best engage families. See Appendix A for the full scale.
This study was approved through the state IRB and administered using the state’s GenLog system. This is a secure internet system housed on CHFS (Cabinet for Health and Family Services) servers for web-based survey design and email distribution. The link to the website was sent electronically to all staff in each Service Region and to Central office staff. Responses to the scale were completely anonymous without any identifying information. Participation in this study was voluntary. However, Service Region Administrators (SRA) and CQI specialists encouraged staff to participate in the study, but had no information on who participated and who declined. The Scale was opened for responses on Tuesday April 20, 2010 and closed on Tuesday May 11, 2010. Out of the approximately 1921 DCBS staff who were sent the link to the survey, 989 (51.5 %) responded.
I.B. Psychometric Analysis
Because the scale was designed to help staff think independently on each item, the items were not organized into pre-determined domains and were scaled in both directions. Consequently, the data from all scaled items (excludes demographics and word selection) responses were first analyzed using factor analysis. Factor analysis is used to reveal the underlying constructs or domains within a scale. All 50 items with a scaled response (semantic differential scales with a seven-point scale, five-point rating scales and four-point scales) were entered into the factor analysis (using SPSS Version 17). The diagnostic tests (Bartlett’s test of sphericity and Kaiser-Meyer-Oklin measures of sampling adequacy) all indicated that the data met the criteria for a factor analysis. Based on points of scree and the interpretation of the factors, a six-factor solution was the best fit with the data and explained 33% of the variance. The data were analyzed using principal component analysis with varimax rotation and the six factors or domains were labeled as beliefs and values on:

  • Family/Youth Capacity

  • Empowering Others

  • Causal Beliefs

  • Out of Home Care

  • Conditions for Removing Children

  • Professional Work Values

The Cronbach’s alpha test of internal consistency was between .76 and .88 for all domains emerging from the factor analysis showing adequate to very good reliability. The results of this survey are organized by these six domains.


  1. Respondents

The 989 DCBS staff who responded to the survey held the following positions; 367 DCBS staff endorsed two or more positions as follows:



Position

# Respondents

% of Respondents

CPS worker

453

46.1

Ongoing worker

254

25.9

Investigative worker

201

20.5

APS worker

105

10.7

Generic worker

103

10.5

Support staff

80

8.1

Specialist (CPS, SNAP, etc.)

72

7.3

R and C worker

71

7.2

Administrator

37

3.8

Support services aide

37

3.8

Central Office Worker

30

3.1

Centralized intake

28

2.9


II.A. Number of Respondents from Each Service Region

II.B. Respondents Experience with DCBS
19.4 percent of respondents were a PCWCP graduate, and 55.5 % had an MSW. Over half (54.7%) had 7 or more years of experience.



  1. Results


III.A. Beliefs and Values on Family/Youth Capacity (16 Items)
Most parents/ families served by DCBS come with – barriers to strengths (n = 984)

  • 34.6% of DCBS staff reported a neutral response indicating that staff responded most parents/ families served by DCBS come with both strengths and barriers.

  • 15.2% responded most parents/ families come with strengths

  • 50.2% responded most parents/ families served by DCBS come with barriers.


Most parents/ families served by DCBS finish with – strengths to barriers (n = 984)

  • 25.8% responded that most parents/ families served by DCBS finish with an equal amount of strengths and barriers

  • 63.9% responded that most parents/ families finish with more strengths than barriers

  • 3.4% responded parents/ families leave with more barriers than strengths



Relatives of CPS families are - Part of the solution to Part of the problem (n = 982)

  • 34.2% indicated that relatives of CPS families are both part of the solution and part of the problem

  • 56.3% responded relatives of CPS families are part of the solution

  • 9.5% responded relatives of CPS families are part of the problem

The apple does not fall far from the tree is true about” is true about relatives of most DCBS families (n = 983)



Because the family cannot see things clearly, it is best that DCBS staff determine the case plan tasks” (n = 977)



  • 18.0 % of responses were neutral/ not sure

  • 68.1% disagreed/ strongly disagreed

  • 13.9% agreed/ strongly agreed

Most children/ youth are too young to really know what they need” (n = 977)



  • 26.4% of DCBS staff surveyed were neutral/ not sure

  • 69.3% disagreed/ strongly disagreed

  • 15.3% agreed/ strongly agreed

Unless a family admits their errors or troubles, they are not ready for change” (n = 981)



  • 19.4% of DCBS staff surveyed were neutral/ not sure

  • 24.8% disagreed/ strongly disagreed

  • 55.9% agreed/ strongly agreed

Parents who abuse substances will work harder on their case plan if we remove their children” (n = 972)



  • 25.9% of DCBS staff surveyed were neutral/ not sure

  • 78.3% disagreed/ strongly disagreed

  • 10.9% agreed/ strongly agreed

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