Reforming Public Child Welfare in Indiana, 2007-2009 (ICPSR 26343)

Version Date: Nov 20, 2018 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
Gail Folaron, Indiana University School of Social Work; Sabrina Williamson Sullenberger, Indiana University School of Social Work

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The study of Indiana's Child Welfare reform was designed to identify community professionals' perceptions of the Department of Child Services (DCS) following the release of a pilot program to reform child welfare in the state of Indiana. In December, 2005, the pilot project was officially rolled out in three regions of the state. The three chosen regions of the state included 11 county agencies with both urban and rural population centers. Together these regions represented 28% of the state's CHINS (Child In Need of Service) population and 20% of the child fatalities for 2004. This study represents data collected to identify perceptions of the DCS by sending a survey to professionals in the 11 pilot and 12 comparison counties. The survey questions were arranged by categories of safety, permanency, well-being, DCS goals, the reform, team meetings, and demographics. Nine separate instruments were developed and disseminated for each community group.

The community professionals surveyed included: Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs), foster parents, judges, Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), medical and public health professionals, schools, social service professionals, and mental health professionals. Survey instruments were tailored to each audience, with questions that were derived from the DCS "Framework for Individualized Needs-Based Child Welfare Service Provisions," which outlined the agency's core practice values and principles.

Folaron, Gail, and Williamson Sullenberger, Sabrina. Reforming Public Child Welfare in Indiana, 2007-2009. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2018-11-20.

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United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (2006-JW-BX-0071)


Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

2007 -- 2009
2006-02-06 -- 2009-13-12
  1. The qualitative observation files associated with this study are not available as part of this data collection at this time.


The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of key community professionals in the three pilot regions to determine whether they perceive changes in the practices of DCS staff and, if they do, how this has affected their relationships and interactions with the Department of Child Services (DCS).

Surveys were distributed to community partners in the 11 pilot and 12 control counties at two points in time. The community groups included school personnel, hospital professionals, public health officials, law enforcement, mental health/social service providers, and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs), judges, and foster parents. The selection of these specific community groups was based on Department of Child Services (DCS) reporting statistics. School personnel, for example, made up 20% of the reports to CPS in 2005.

The survey was distributed electronically to all community professionals except law enforcement officers, and foster parents. These two groups received surveys via US Mail with an option to return the paper copy or complete it online.

The sample covered six regions of the state and included 23 counties. Each region was under the leadership of a different regional director. Three regions comprised of 11 counties served as the pilot for the study. This group included Regions 9, 10 and 18. Region 9 was the first region to roll out the reform followed a couple of weeks later by Region 18. Both of these regions include rural and midsize cities. Region 9 is in west central Indiana; while Region 18 is in the southeast corner of the state. Region 10 is a large urban area comprised of only one county, Marion County. Marion County is also the city of Indianapolis in a unigov structure.

The comparison regions 1, 6, and 16 were matched by county size, growth, and comparable rural to urban populations. These three regions included 12 counties and they were scheduled to be the last to roll out the reform. Region 1, a.k.a Lake County, includes Gary, Indiana and is located in the northwest corner of the state. This region was matched to Region 10. Region 6, located in north central Indiana was matched to region 9 and Region 16, in the southwest corner was matched to Region 18.

Included in the sample were 51 Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs), 215 foster parents, 58 law enforcement agents, 35 medical personnel including hospital staff and public health workers, 163 school personnel, and 90 social service providers. Social service providers included both mental health professionals and home based therapists.


Social service community professionals including Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), judges, foster parents, educators, hospital administrators, and social service agency directors working within the state of Indiana.


Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA): 74%

Foster Parents: 47%

Judges: 34%

Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA): 75%

Medical and Public Health: Medical 71%, Public Health 73%

Schools: 60%

Social Services and Mental Health: Social Services 79%, Mental Health 94%

Several Likert-type scales were used.



2018-11-20 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.