Staff attitudes toward family involvement and reunification in residential treatment centers

Frances Claire Coleman, Pace University


There has been a federally mandated shift in child welfare policy in the past two decades to more family centered and community-based approaches. Family involvement in treatment is mandated even within the most restrictive level of care within the child welfare system—the residential treatment center. Additionally, family reunification should be the primary goal of treatment. Nevertheless, if staff who are providing services do not embrace these policies, then the likelihood that they will be incorporated into practice is substantially diminished. The current study examined staff attitudes towards parental involvement and family reunification for children who live in residential treatment centers (RTCs). A 102-question survey, which was adapted from Baker, Heller, Blacher, and Pfeiffer (1995), was administered to 102 staff members from three sites of a child welfare agency. The hypothesis that there is a positive relationship between support for family involvement in residential treatment and family reunification was confirmed by a significant positive correlation ( r = .26, p < .01). The hypothesis that staff who hold more positive beliefs about families and how much they can be helped would be more supportive of family involvement in treatment was confirmed (r = .57, p < .01). The third hypothesis that administrators endorsed more positive items on the attitudes toward family reunification than clinicians and child care staff was supported, [ F (2,96) = 5.64, p < .005]. The hypothesis that years of experience (r = .32, p < .01), amount of training respondent had prior to employment at the agency ( r = .24, p < .05), and amount of training in family work at JCCA (r = .54, p < .01) were positively correlated with Attitudes toward Family Involvement was supported. Overall these three variables accounted for 30% of the variance in staff members' support for family involvement. The results of this study indicated that staff who work in residential treatment centers are committed to family involvement and believed that reunification is a realistic goal in many cases. Further study could focus on what staff perceive as obstacles toward reunification and this may help to guide treatment. It would also be useful to research the efficacy of family treatment and success of reunification efforts.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Coleman, Frances Claire, "Staff attitudes toward family involvement and reunification in residential treatment centers" (1999). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9949097.



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