Factors that predict child welfare caseworker referrals to an evidence-based parenting program

Christina Myers*, Antonio Garcia, Rinad Beidas, Zixiaojie Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background and purpose: Despite the increasing number of evidence-based practices (EBPs) for children and families in child welfare, child welfare agencies continue to encounter barriers to implementation, including a lack of utilization that may be caused by a lack of caseworker referrals to EBPs. However, further research is needed to determine additional factors that impact caseworker referrals. Objective: This study examined whether caseworker demographic factors, attitudes towards EBPs and organizational factors predict caseworker referrals. Relying upon tenets of the Theory of Planned Behavior, this study also examined whether intention to refer predicts caseworker referrals to an EBP. Participants and setting: A convenience sample of 130 caseworkers and support staff was selected from two community-based agencies that provide child welfare services and were implementing an EBP, the Positive Parenting Program (Triple P). Methods: Researchers used survey data from participants and caseworker referral data collected three to six months after survey completion. Binary logistic regression was used to measure the relationship between predictor variables and caseworker referrals. Results: Results showed that agency of employment (OR = 3.31), age (OR = 0.12), race/ethnicity (OR = −4.303), and openness to EBPs (OR = 1.77) significantly (p < .05) predicted whether or not a caseworker made a referral to Triple P. Conclusions: Intention to refer did not predict referral behavior, possibly due to intervening events that took precedence over parenting needs. Providing support to caseworkers in navigating well-being needs amidst emergent crises may mitigate this barrier. Findings underscore the need to explore organizational differences that may facilitate caseworker referrals including the impact of locating Triple P providers the same location as caseworkers and of differing agency referral norms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104750
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Caseworker referrals
  • Child welfare
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Implementation
  • Theory of planned behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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