Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Carolyn McAllister


The purpose of this study is to answer the following questions: “What is the current public attitude toward public child welfare services and what sources of information have been used to formulate these attitudes?” In answering these questions, child welfare agencies would have a better understanding of what populations to promote public outreach, education, or further community involvement based on demographics and/or which venues to implement such outreach.

This study provides information on previous studies where researchers have looked at the general role of social work and used the gathered information to assess public sentiment. In past research there has been discrepancy in the outcomes of this data. Past research has also incorporated news media and the portrayal of child welfare social workers, but has not attempted to measure the impacts of media and the public’s perception of the profession. With recent societal events, it has become more evident that public perception can be a driving force in policy change. The intent of this study is to identify individual demographic information (e.g., race/ethnicity, income level, household size, prior child welfare system involvement, etc.) that would show a significant relationship with a developed scale to measure participants’ attitude or sentiment toward child welfare social work.

To obtain participants, a link to the developed survey was posted to multiple social media pages where the primary subject included the Victor Valley region of San Bernardino County, California. Participants were also asked to repost the link to the survey to their social media pages in order to increase participant numbers. For this project, 183 participants completed the survey to completion.

Due to the level of measurement of the variables, multiple data analysis techniques were used in order to identify relationships between the independent demographic variables and the score on the sentiment scale. These techniques include t-tests, ANOVA, and correlation.

Of the variables measured for statistical significance, only the participants past levels of child welfare services involvement showed significance. This was especially true for participants who had experiences both as a minor and as a parent. Income level, news sources, and other demographic identifiers did not show statistically significant differences in sentiment toward child welfare social work.

With the information from this study, child welfare agencies might implement further outreach to the identified populations in order to provide further support. This information can also identify which specific factors contribute to the negative perceptions through qualitative analysis.

Included in

Social Work Commons