An Exploration Of Birth Parents' Child Welfare Mandated Service Experiences
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Type of WorkText
ProgramDoctor of Philosophy
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When children are placed in out-of-home care due to maltreatment, the parents are mandated to receive services in order to reunify with their children. Studies have been completed on parents' service experiences, but little is known about birth parents' Child Welfare mandated service experiences. This study explored African American birth parents' mandated service experiences because previous studies on parents' service experiences were very general (Estefan, Coulter, VandeWeerd, Armstong, & Gorski, 2012; Harris, 2012; Marcenko et al., 2010; Schreiber, Fuller, & Paceley, 2013). The studies included the birth parents, grandparents, and adult caretakers. The Maltreatment Report (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families [USDHHS ACF], 2012) showed that 88.5% of perpetrators for child abuse and neglect were birth parents, and the AFCARS Report showed that children one year old were the highest number in foster care (USDHHS ACF, 2012; USDHHS ACF, 2013). The purpose of this study is to understand the mandated service experiences of African American birth parents whose children were removed and placed in out-of-home care through the Child Welfare system. These parents were mandated to receive services in order to reunify with their children. This is a qualitative study with phenomenological-hermeneutic design. In-depth interviews were collected from seven African American birth parents and three providers of mandated services who shared their experiences working with the parents. The ecological system perspective was used to examine their service experiences from individual, family, program, and policy levels. Fourteen themes were extracted from birth parents' descriptions of their experiences to create the findings. The participants interviewed received the help they needed after their children were removed. Most of the birth parents interviewed suffered depression. Participants identified mental health services as the most helpful mandated service. Visitation was identified as the most negative experience. Most of the birth parents felt their parental authority was threatened once Child Welfare got involved with the family. Birth parents interviewed want to have their own social workers, etc. The findings have implications for social work research, practice, and policy.