Date of Conferral
Decades of data document that permanent placements of children in the welfare system has been a concern in Mississippi. As foster care rates increase, more children are awaiting placement. Researchers have linked child welfare workers' educational background to placement outcomes for foster care children; however, researchers have not addressed the relationship between child welfare workers' educational backgrounds and foster care placement outcomes in Mississippi. This quantitative study examined the educational backgrounds of social work and nonsocial work child welfare caseworkers and other factors such as children's gender and race as predictors in placement outcomes for children in welfare custody. Attachment theory was used to explain parent-child relationships and the importance of permanent, safe, and nurturing homes for children in the child welfare system. Secondary data were used from the 2017 archival records for 176 child welfare caseworkers' caseloads in the Mississippi Department of Child Protective Services (MDCPS). A simple linear and multiple regression analysis was used to examine child welfare caseworkers' educational background and children's gender and race as predictors for the length of stay in placement outcomes. The results revealed that caseworkers' educational backgrounds were not a significant predictor of placement outcomes but gender and race combined were significant in predicting the length of stay in placement outcomes for children in custody. Results from this study could promote positive social change within MDCPS by providing data to inform agency policy and procedures for child welfare practice, which could then result in more timely placements of reunification or adoption for children in the welfare system who are currently spending 36 months or more in traditional foster care.