February 2013Vol. 14, No. 1Worker Experiences With Child Maltreatment Fatalities
Between 30 and 40 percent of child maltreatment fatality victims, or their families, were known to child welfare or social service agencies prior to their death. A new study suggests that, given these numbers, child welfare professionals may play an important role in preventing child maltreatment fatalities (CMFs).
The article "Child Welfare Workers' Training, Knowledge, and Practice Concerns Regarding Child Maltreatment Fatalities: An Exploratory Multi-State Analysis," by Emily Douglas, is based on survey responses the author collected from 426 current child welfare workers from 25 States, regarding the respondents' experiences with CMFs.
Survey questions focused on participant demographics and whether they had experienced a CMF on their caseload. Questions also centered on worker knowledge of CMF risk factors, their opinions about CMFs, and practice concerns. A majority of participants were female (89 percent), had a master's degree (more than 50 percent), and specialized in social work (57 percent).
Key findings include the following:
- Workers were more knowledgeable about child-level risk factors and the parent-child relationship than the parental and household risk factors.
- Roughly 75 percent of respondents said they are worried a child on their caseload will die, and more than 27 percent had experienced such a death.
- More than 92 percent of respondents reported assessing for potential risk of fatality when working with families. Those who had received training regarding CMFs were more likely to assess for risk factors.
- Over 72 percent said they had received training about risk factors for CMFs, and more than 90 percent of participants reported wanting more training.
- When asked for their opinion about how the child welfare system could better prevent CMFs, respondents listed lower caseloads, increased training, and expanded services for families, among their suggestions.
Douglas produced a series of factsheets presenting various aspects of data from the study, such as information about workers who experience the death of a client, case characteristics for CMFs, and posttraumatic stress symptoms among workers who experience the death of a client.
The factsheets are available here:
The article "Child Welfare Workers' Training, Knowledge, and Practice Concerns Regarding Child Maltreatment Fatalities: An Exploratory Multi-State Analysis," Journal of Public Child Welfare, 6(5), 2012, is available for purchase here: