Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Patricia Ripoll


This study focused on a policy that promotes educational stability for foster children in a southern state in the US. At the time of this study, this policy had not been fully adopted across the state which resulted in foster children not routinely receiving the interventions necessary for improving academic outcomes. Using the diffusion of innovation theory as a framework, the purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore how local-level leaders impacted the successful adoption of education policy in one county office of a statewide child welfare agency. Data were collected from a sample of 5 case managers and a review of the literature. The data were coded and analyzed using Colaizzi's 7-step method of data analysis. Results revealed the specific actions that were taken by county-level leaders to impact the successful adoption of the policy. Such actions included the allocation of resources and the intentional inclusion of informal leaders in decision-making around policy implementation. The social change implications stemming from this study include recommendations made to program leadership to consider practical changes to policy implementation that may result in successful adoption of this policy. Such changes may lead to foster children across the state receiving the benefits of the evidence-based supports outlined in the policy and may lead to an improvement in the delivery of services to vulnerable populations served by the child welfare agency.