Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Social Welfare


Irwin Epstein

Subject Categories

Social Work


Child Welfare; Evidence-Based Practice; Implementation; SBC; Social Welfare; Solution-Based Casework


Across the country, child welfare agencies have started to implement casework practice models in an effort to improve the safety, permanency and well-being of vulnerable children and families. In their effort to do so, child welfare systems have faced complex contextual challenges to implementation. To date, however, there has been limited empirical research describing successful implementation of these practices. Moreover, little systematic feedback exists concerning service providers' perspectives of various aspects of the implementation process.

The purpose of this qualitative research study was to explore child welfare supervisors' and case workers' responses to various methods of implementation of Solution-Based Casework (SBC); a promising casework practice model recently introduced into this organizational context. For the study, case planners and supervisors were recruited within four different child welfare agencies in New York City. Participants then described their experiences with different modes of SBC implementation and efforts to adopt the model to their work in foster care and preventive services.

The research applied the constructivist approach to grounded theory methodology (Charmaz, 2006). Grounded theory posits that individual perspectives and actions are fundamentally influenced by contexts and social interactions (Charmaz, 2006). The use of this methodology helped capture the organizational contexts and processes, which shaped practitioners' conceptualizations of SBC.

The results showed that organizational support for SBC, on-going practical training and continuous coaching from peers greatly influenced practitioners' operationalization of SBC strategies. Findings also revealed ways in which caseworkers struggled to use the model with various client populations and how many foster care practitioners, unlike preventive caseworkers, expressed the need for additional clinical training to effectively use the model. Overall, the study highlighted critical contributions of service providers in SBC implementation and, more broadly, the importance of seeking feedback on practitioner experiences with evidence-supported model.

Although data were drawn from practitioners' feedback with a specific evidence supported model, the issues uncovered and generalizations derived were consistent with other research studies on program implementation in social services. This suggests that the results may be highly transferable and strategies for improving program implementation may be applicable to a variety of settings as well as intervention approaches.

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