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April 2015Vol. 16, No. 3Dependency Court Hearings and Family Engagement

A recent article in the journal Advances in Social Work highlights a study that examined the effect of particular settings on the development of positive partnerships between child welfare professionals and the families with whom they work. This qualitative study discussed the importance of engaging effectively with families in order to promote healthy cross-collaborative relationships. Using focus group interviews and dependency court observations, interactions between families and dependency court professionals were assessed in order to determine factors that can impede collaboration between professionals and families, in addition to those that may contribute to increased family engagement. The data provided suggest needed changes in the organizational conditions of dependency courts in order to promote collaboration in sustaining family permanency, as well as cross-system trainings with child welfare professionals, attorneys, and judges.

"Engaging Families Building Relationships: Strategies for Working Across Systems From a Social Exchange Perspective," by K. Rice and H. Girvin, Advances in Social Work, 15(2), 2014, is available at

For more information on engaging and supporting families, see Child Welfare Information Gateway's Family Engagement Inventory ( and Engaging Families webpage (