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March 2021Vol. 22, No. 3Report Highlights Results From the 2020 National Child Welfare Information Study

Child Welfare Information Gateway, with funding from the Children's Bureau, conducted a research study to better understand how child welfare professionals access information and use technology within their practices.

For this study, researchers surveyed 4,134 participants, including child welfare professionals from public in private agencies as well as tribal organizations, legal professionals, and social work students. Respondents were asked about their ability to access child welfare information online; their methods for searching for information; if and how often they received child welfare information, regardless of whether they were searching for it or not; whether they shared information with coworkers or other relevant professional contacts; and their use of mobile devices and social media.

Key findings of the study include the following:

  • Compared with more senior child welfare professionals, frontline workers were more likely to seek child welfare information directly from coworkers, share it during face-to-face conversations, and prefer visual communication formats such as videos and pamphlets. In addition, frontline professionals working in tribal communities were more likely than other groups to identify their own limited knowledge and skills using technology as a barrier to using mobile devices at work.
  • Compared with their junior counterparts, senior child welfare professionals were more likely to gather information from formal sources, including briefing documents, reports, and peer-reviewed journals, and share child welfare information with coworkers via email.
  • Legal professionals preferred to receive child welfare information through briefings, reports, and peer-reviewed journals. They also primarily used email to share that information with colleagues. Legal professionals are also more likely than child welfare professionals to point to their own limited knowledge and skills using technology as a primary barrier to using mobile devices on the job.
  • Students tended to share child welfare information during face-to-face conversations and on social media.
  • Younger professionals across all roles were more likely than older professionals to prefer to receive child welfare information in video and podcast formats. They were also more likely than older professionals to use social media to facilitate their work in child welfare.
  • Older professionals, in contrast to their younger colleagues, were more prone to mention their limited knowledge and skills using technology as a barrier to using mobile devices.

Read the full report, How Child Welfare Professionals Access, Use, and Share Information: Results From the National Child Welfare Information Study, to learn more.