Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Cooperating University

University of Kentucky


Social Work

Committee Chair

Lawson, Thomas Richard

Author's Keywords

Social sciences; Child maltreatment; Recidivism; Kentucky; Child protective services; Risk assessment


Child welfare--Kentucky--Statistics; Child abuse--Kentucky--Statistics; Recidivism--Kentucky


This quantitative dissertation examines risk assessment and recidivism of child maltreatment to determine the relationship between child protective services provided by the Kentucky Department of Protection and Permanency and risk of harm. A chart review of existing data on 3,235 closed Kentucky child protective services cases provides information about the quality of service provided to families, the reduction of risk of maltreatment assessed in the family, and the rate of recidivism following case closure. This dissertation examines the usefulness of the Continuous Quality Assessment tool (CQA) and its effectiveness in assessing risk. The CQA is an assessment tool that is designed to guide child protective workers in making case decisions throughout the life of the case. This dissertation on risk assessment and recurrence of maltreatment adds to the measurable outcomes of effectiveness for child protection services and enhances a public child welfare agency's ability to improve service delivery to families. A modified one-group pretest posttest design was utilized to assess the dependent variables, risk of maltreatment and recurrence of maltreatment, before and after casework services were provided. Changes in risk of maltreatment were measured by the cumulative rating on the assessment tool, as well as by scores in the specific risk domains: maltreatment, sequence of events (how well the family is managing their high-risk situations), family development stages, family choice of discipline, adult patterns of behavior, child/youth development, and family support. The second dependent variable, recurrence of maltreatment, was measured by the number of reports of maltreatment investigated in the year following case closure. Findings highlight the success of solution-based casework in creating change. Variables found to be significantly related to reduction in risk include (a)the length of time a case was open for the current treatment episode, (b)region of service, (c)supervisor gender, (d)CQA individual risk domains, and (e)expertise of worker. Variables found to be significantly related to recurrence of maltreatment include (a)CQA safety rating and individual risk domains, (b)worker's level of skill, (c)type of abuse, (d)number of substantiated referrals in case at closure, (e)a prior episode of treatment, and (f)geographic region of service.