Engagement in child protective services: Parent perceptions of worker skills

Jill C. Schreiber, Tamara Fuller, Megan S. Paceley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent reforms in child protection systems (CPS) in several countries have placed an increased emphasis on engaging parents in the initial assessment and service planning process. CPS workers, however, face multiple barriers to successful engagement with parents, including parents' preconceived notions of CPS and their subsequent fearful or angry responses to the initial visit. This qualitative study sought input from 40 parents involved in CPS regarding the strategies that workers used to successfully engage them in the child protection intervention. Three major themes about worker skills emerged from the analysis of the interview transcripts: parents were more positively engaged with CPS workers who they perceived as competent, who utilized positive communication skills, and who provided them with either emotional or concrete support. These findings have clear implications for CPS worker training; especially for CPS agencies that do not require CPS workers to have social work degrees. Additional implications for CPS agencies, such as the need for realistic worker caseloads and effective community outreach, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)707-715
Number of pages9
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Child protection
  • Child welfare
  • Client engagement
  • Investigation
  • Parent engagement
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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