Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Janet Chang


Child maltreatment negatively impacts physical, emotional, and the health and well-being of a person, often with lifelong implications. The importance of this study derives from the very necessity of mental health services for children who have suffered trauma. Children’s Assessment Centers (CAC) assess and refer children who have experienced abuse to a therapist in the community. This study examines the use of an enhanced referral process used to connect some CAC clients more quickly to therapeutic services in the community. The study examined whether children who received this expedited referral service were more likely than children who received the standard referral process to see a therapist within three months. The study used data provided by one CAC in California. The CAC provided information on clients who received either the expedited or standard referral process within a 3-month period in 2017. The researcher then contacted the clients’ caregivers to ask whether the child saw a therapist within 3-months of the child’s referral from the CAC. The study used a Chi-square test to analyze whether children who received an expedited referral to mental health services were more likely than children who received the standard referral to receive mental health services within three months. Results indicated no statistically significant difference in access to mental health services for the two groups. However, during data collection, the researcher learned that some children were already engaged in therapy at the time they received the referral, perhaps rendering the referral unnecessary. Implications for social work practice, policy, and research are discussed.

Included in

Social Work Commons