Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Deirdre Lanesskog, Janet Chang


This research project examines resources and services to prevent families and children from entering the child welfare system in a rural town in Southern California. There is constant struggle to get the adequate services, resources and trained staff in this rural area because it is isolated and it takes about two hours’ travel time to get to the metropolitan cities. The literature review discusses child welfare services challenges, strengths and social capital to support families and children as well as the child welfare system itself in rural areas. Constructivism is the appropriate framework for this research project, because the goal of this study will be based on an exchange of understanding and ideas; therefore, the nature of the study is subjective. The engagement stage was an important stage for the constructivist approach. The researcher analyzed transcripts from the interviews and group meetings using thematic analysis to examine participants’ concerns and their perceptions of the community’s resources. Further, the participants, guided by the researcher, worked together to develop a strategic action plan to address child abuse and neglect in this community. This project encouraged community leaders to discuss the community’s strengths and main concerns related to child abuse and neglect. Interestingly, these strengths and concerns often mirror one another. Participants’ perceptions and recommendation are about safety, connectedness, human services access and child welfare of the focused rural town.