Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Joseph, Rigaud


Children in foster care experience complex trauma that puts them at risk for frequent placement changes. Such changes can have a negative impact on child welfare social workers’ job performance. This exploratory study identified areas that need to be addressed for social workers to meet expectations for placement preservation. More specifically, this qualitative study explored the perceptions of child welfare social workers’ competence and confidence regarding placement stability for foster children who have behavioral issues. Interviews were conducted with seven child welfare workers across three states: California, Nevada, and Texas (N = 7). Thematic analysis procedures revealed the following six themes:1) long term commitment, 2) lack of readiness and training, 3) lack of knowledge on how to address challenges, 4) limited, reactive support, 5) several factors associated with lack of organizational support, and 6) various preferred services. The findings in the study have implications for social service organizations in that social workers can use this research to increase knowledge on ways to overcome the challenges faced when preserving placement for children with behavioral issues.