Date of Conferral
Doctor of Social Work (DSW)
The purpose of this action research study was to investigate social workers' perceptions of the problems that prevent successful family reunifications after foster care. The study explored social workers' perceptions of barriers that prevent family reunifications in central Mississippi. Using Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory as the framework, the research question explored the problem from multiple levels of practice including family, individual, institutional, and community. The focus group approach aligned with the project goal by allowing participants opportunities to share experiences and perspectives regarding family reunifications. The study used a purposive sample of 10 participants who were practicing licensed social workers or certified mental health professionals in central Mississippi. Focus group responses were transcribed and coded by defining categories, assigning labels, and classifying relevant information using the comparative method. The key results of the study included that family reunification was impeded by the lack of training of child welfare social workers and limited resources to address psychosocial issues. The recommendations of the study included improving practice by engaging in mental health screening for foster children and families, promoting current knowledge and interventions by addressing psychosocial issues, and participating in program evaluation by targeting and strengthening policies. The impact of this study for positive social change includes understanding critical issues of family reunification after foster care stemming from lack of resources, unstable placements, and mental health issues.