An evaluation of child welfare inservice training: The relative effectiveness of substance abuse content in improving worker knowledge and attitudes

Welker Clark Mitchell, Florida International University


Given the seriousness of substance abuse as a child welfare problem, the purpose of this study was to examine the relative effectiveness of an inservice training curriculum for child welfare workers. The training was designed to improve worker knowledge and attitudes in working with substance abusing families. Seventy (70) child welfare workers from public and private agencies in two south Florida counties participated in a pretest/posttest control group design that also trained and retested the control group. The literature review supports that the general preparedness of child welfare workers for the issues presented by substance abusing families is in question. Confounding this problem is a lack of understanding of substance abuse dynamics, worker biases, and predispositions. The two research hypotheses focused on whether inservice training could increase worker knowledge and improve worker attitudes in working with this population. Training delivery was in the form of a five-day inservice focusing on an array of substance abuse knowledge and attitudinal topics. Separate knowledge and attitude instruments were developed for the research and were administered, before and after training, to a purposive sample of participants that were randomly assigned to the experimental and control groups. The data analysis supported the research hypotheses but raised a question. Specifically, the experimental group demonstrated significant improvement in posttest scores on both instruments after receiving the training; whereas the control group, with training withheld, also demonstrated a significant improvement at posttest, but only on the knowledge instrument. Although the question was unanswered, when examined at a more critical significance level, only the experimental group remained significant. The hypotheses were reconfirmed when, after training and retesting, the control group also displayed significant improvement on both instruments. The findings support the conclusion that this substance abuse inservice was effective in improving worker knowledge and attitudes regarding working with substance abusing families. As an implication for social work practice, it suggests that similar inservice training can be a viable training resource when formal substance abuse training is unavailable. Additional research is suggested regarding to what degree increased substance abuse knowledge and improved worker attitudes correlate with improved practice.

Subject Area

Social work|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Mitchell, Welker Clark, "An evaluation of child welfare inservice training: The relative effectiveness of substance abuse content in improving worker knowledge and attitudes" (1995). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9610892.