Date of Conferral







Kimberly Cox


The problem of child maltreatment recurrence is both complex and pervasive, affecting nearly every nationality and culture worldwide. The current body of research consistently contains reports of a gap due to the lack of input from the families served that may be resolved through the application of intergroup contact theory. The purpose of this study was to determine if the presence of an attorney representing parents in child maltreatment intervention predicted lower recurrence in child maltreatment as opposed to when those attorneys are absent from the process. While much of the practice of social work is based on ecological systems theory, a microperspective view through the lens of intergroup contact theory is used in this study. A quantitative, quasi-experimental, contrasted groups design was used to analyze the relationships between the legal representation of parents in child maltreatment interventions as well as moderator effects of child maltreatment type and substance use by the caregiver on that relationship using archival records collected from 2016 to 2018 by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The results showed a significant relationship between child maltreatment recurrence and legal representation of the families receiving services such that those parents with legal representation experienced significantly less recurrence. The moderating effects of parental legal representation on child maltreatment type and substance use by the caregiver on recurrence however were not found to be significant and would benefit from more study. The social change implications of this study are such that the findings may help inform policymakers and legislators on more effective interventions for the families served.