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April 2009Vol. 10, No. 3Interviewing Skills for Child Welfare and Domestic Violence

Training child welfare workers to be more effective in conducting interviews with adult clients is the focus of a new report released by the California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC). The report, Helping Child Welfare Workers Learn Interviewing Skills: A Research Report, addresses concerns that poorly developed interviewing skills can lead workers to make either a false negative or false positive assessment on safety issues.

In the report, author Colleen Friend describes a pilot training program that involved a small sample of public child welfare employees who interviewed client proxies representing parents referred for coexisting problems of possible child abuse and domestic violence. The interviews were scored by researchers who observed both the live interview and a videotape of the interview. After a short training on interviewing skills, the workers then interviewed different client proxies and were scored using the same instrument.

The author reports that, because of the small sample size, the results were not conclusive, but most of the participants did show an improvement in their interviewing skills. The report also describes in detail the process used by researchers to develop and establish the validity of the Child Welfare Domestic Violence Interview Skill Set, the instrument used to measure the effectiveness of the participants' interview skills.

The report is available on the Internet: (348 KB)