Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Aqueil Ahmad



by Charles F. Lorbeer

Dissertation Chair: Dr. Aqueil Ahmad

Committee Members: Dr. Aqueil Ahmad, Dr. Robert Butters, and Dr. Ashakant Nimbark,

The goal of this study was to analyze the decision by child welfare supervisors to remove children from their parents. This was accomplished by studying the effect that three specific factors have on that decision. The three factors were 1) physical abuse, 2) domestic violence and substance abuse, and 3) availability of services to help the family.

Decision theory provided the conceptual framework for understanding the microstructure and interplay of variables involved in a decision. Decision theory was viewed within the context of the current functioning of the child welfare system. The goal was to present an integrated approach that led to development of a scale that was used to rate specific factors that this research studied. Emphasis was placed on survey research methods to help determine decision making factors used by managers. Eighty-seven child welfare supervisors were surveyed from the northeast region of the Massachusetts Department of Social services. The prediction that a combination of factors of physical abuse and domestic violence/ substance abuse would increase the certainty of a manager removing a child from his parents was confirmed by data. The prediction that the likelihood of managers removing a child from his/her parents is greater with evidence of severe physical injury to the child than with presence of only general domestic violence and substance abuse by parents was not supported by data. The prediction that certainty of managers removing a child from his/her parents increases with lack of services (such as daycare, in-home intensive counseling, and availability of the agency worker) was confirmed by data.

As a consequence of this study, useful information was provided for those interested in protective services for children, e.g., social workers, managers, students, lawyers, child advocates, and society as a whole.

Analysis of demographic and attitudinal variables indicated a relationship to decision making. The variables that were analyzed included the influence of manager's gender, number of children, attitude toward spanking, history of spanking, and their opinion on importance of problems 2 and solutions to challenges within the system.

Completion of the project has contributed to the knowledge base of the management of child protective services. A contribution to the understanding of how the system currently works, and suggestions for social change within the profession have been made. Findings of this study point to the continued need for the implementation of specific criteria to guide supervisory decision making. Formulation of sound decision making guides will not only increase the supervisor's competence when deciding to remove children from a parent(s), but will also help to improve the efficacy of decisions for both removal and non-removal interventions.