Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Li, Yawen (Dr.)


This research examined the barriers direct social service workers face while working with incarcerated youth. Using an exploratory method with a qualitative approach. Researchers interviewed participants with experience in working with incarcerated youth and conducted interviews via Zoom. A purposive method was used and incorporated the snowball sampling technique and explored the barriers direct social service workers experience when working with families, probation, and the juvenile justice system. Data analysis identified three common themes: challenges in engaging families, lack of understanding between direct social service workers, probation, and their work, and challenges associated with collaboration between agencies. Limitations to this study include a small sample size, which limited its generalizability to a wider population in general. Recommendations include implementation of cross-training across agencies or better understanding of basic education in mental health and the impacts it has on youths' environment and decision making.