Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Lanesskog, Deirdre


This research explored the social workers’ perspectives of strengths and protective factors of parents who abuse substances and have history or involvement with public child welfare. The purpose of identifying protective factors in parents who abuse substances is to help mitigate safety risks for children.

The participants of the study are social service practitioners and supervisors with social service practitioner experience in public child welfare. Eight participants were sampled through purposive and convenience sampling. The researchers conducted in depth interviews with the participants to obtain qualitative data regarding their perspective of protective factors of parents who use substances. The participants were recruited with an email sent throughout a Southern California public child welfare agency and the interviews were conducted through the online platform Zoom.

Through thematic analysis techniques, it was found that there were five major protective factors identified by the participants: Support Networks, Services, Safety Plans, Socioeconomic Status, and Motivation/Willingness. It was found that these protective factors may mitigate the risks to children that arise due to parental substance abuse and are considered by public child welfare agencies as factors contributing to a determination that children can safely remain in their home of origin. This study was conducted to fill a gap in data and research specifically as it relates to the protective factors of parents who use substances. The data resulting from this study was consistent with relating studies of the benefits of support networks and access to services in promoting the wellbeing of children. As this study resulted in saturated data that was consistent with previous studies, it can be concluded that these protective factors are a notable consideration to mitigate risks of parental substance use for children.