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%
Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA): 75%
Medical and Public Health: Medical 71%, Public Health 73%
Social Services and Mental Health: Social Services 79%, Mental Health 94%
Several Likert-type scales were used.