Date of Degree

5-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Social Welfare

Advisor

Gerald Mallon

Committee Members

Marina Lalayants

Colleen Henry

Subject Categories

Social Work

Keywords

Youth aging out of foster care, implementation research, child welfare, emotional and relational permanency

Abstract

The Family Finding intervention is a six-stage intervention that aims to improve the well-being of youth lingering in foster care by searching for and engaging adults who can provide them with permanent relational connections (Campbell, 2010). Preliminary research on fidelity to the Family Finding intervention indicated gaps in its implementation (Malm, Vandivere, Allen, Williams, & McKlindon, 2014; Vandivere & Malam, 2015). This study sought to explore how implementation fidelity occurs in real-world settings and the factors that promote implementation fidelity for the intervention.

An explanatory sequential mixed methods inquiry was employed to examine permanency specialists’ perceptions of the implementation of the Family Finding intervention and the factors associated with its implementation fidelity. In the quantitative phase of this study, 38 permanency specialists implementing Family Finding completed a survey about their perceptions of individual and organizational factors related to fidelity. The qualitative phase included in depth interviews with 22 permanency specialists. The qualitative data added a substantial degree of context to the quantitative results regarding participants’ perceptions of implementation and their perceptions of factors influencing implementation fidelity.

The results of this study suggest that workers fell short of implementing the intervention with fidelity; they combined some steps and skipped others. Participants agreed that the discovery and engagement steps were the most complex and time-consuming parts of the intervention, while evaluation, follow up, and support were not always distinct steps.

Supervision, training, and having positive attitudes toward the intervention were associated with implementation fidelity. In the participants’ opinions, in order to be a good permanency specialist, one must have excellent engagement skills, empathy, and the ability to be persistent. Positive supervision experiences and quality of training were associated with higher implementation fidelity. Overall, the participants had very positive outlook on the intervention and believed that Family Finding is an essential intervention to support foster youth.

There was inconsistency in the support that offered to those who accomplished the intervention. This study recommends putting in place more concrete follow-up services and support in order to retain the change created by the intervention. Without concrete support to youth and adults, connections may fade away.

The current study is the first of its kind to assess implementation fidelity and workers’ experiences implementing the Family Finding intervention. Consequently, the findings of this study offer a variety of avenues for further exploration. Family Finding has yet to become an evidence based practice or evidence-informed practice. Therefore, the current study is a significant step toward supporting the dissemination of the intervention with confidence so it can become a best practice to promote permanency and improve the well-being of foster youth aging out of care.

Included in

Social Work Commons

Share

COinS