Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Simon, James


This research project is an analysis of Child and Family Teaming (CFT) utilized in rural California child welfare departments as a prevention strategy to court intervention and children being placed in care. Currently, the mandates for CFT in the state of California only apply to children who have been removed from their homes. Within the rural counties of this study, CFT is viewed as best practice, and it is offered to families as an opportunity to engage with the agency and strategize to create safety in order to mitigate removal and/or the need for court intervention.

The research project followed a post-positivist paradigm, providing qualitative data from a small sample, which represented the larger population as a whole. This study evaluated interviews from ten participants with varying educations, experiences, and professions. Due to COVID-19, the interviews took place over the Zoom platform after which they transcribed and coded. The interviews aimed to gather information and different perspectives on which aspects of CFTs are most successful in preventing the need for further intervention and child removal, reasons why teaming was unsuccessful in preventing removal, and areas where teaming can create better outcomes for families and the agencies of which they work with.

The findings of this research resulted in several themes and subthemes. One of the themes identified was aspects of the most successful CFTs. The subthemes of this category were found to be engaging families early in the process, connecting them to necessary resources for meeting their basic needs, and proper facilitation in guiding the teaming process. Another theme identified surrounded safety and harm mitigation. For this category the subthemes identified were continued drug use by the parent, lack of safe housing, and continued abuse. The themes identified in order to lead to better outcomes for teaming as a preventative approach were educating the family on the process of the CFT and expansion of their support network being of upmost importance.

The overall findings in this study identified that approximately half of the time, early intervention through CFT prevented the need for child removal and court intervention. Furthermore, providers identified that even when children were removed, the other fifty percent of the time, outcomes for those cases were improved as well. In some cases, for example, reunification was found to occur sooner when teaming was involved, and permanent placements with family were able to be established.

The implications of this research for micro social work practice describe how early teaming helps engage and create rapport with families from the beginning of their involvement with the agency. Furthermore, the agency’s ability to meet the family’s basic needs through resource connection is addressed. Regarding macro social work considerations, this study supports a shift in practice – creating the opportunity for social workers to engage in preventative practices for better outcomes rather than the reactive approaches which are currently used.

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Social Work Commons