Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Building on prior research that utilizes clinical vignettes to analyze child welfare placement decisions (Briar, 1963; Britner & Mossler, 2002; Donnelly, 1980; Drury-Hudson, 1999; Gold, et al., 2001; Taylor, 2006), the present study employs an experimental format to assess the relative importance that social workers place on variables related to placement decisions, and to study any differences regarding decision making that may emerge amongst the child welfare professionals themselves. The study consists of a single hypothetical vignette that will be sent to social workers in the state of Illinois. Prior to administration of the questionnaire, multiple experts in the field of child welfare were consulted in order to ensure that the vignette is a realistic depiction of a placement scenario. The study was sent via postal mail to social workers who are both experts and novices within the field of child welfare. The respondents indicated if their preferred placement option would be community-based or residential and completed a portion of a standardized assessment tool based on their impressions of the child in the vignette. The respondents also answered basic demographic questions about themselves, such as the type of clients that they typically work with and the number of years they have been at their job. Finally, the respondents answered questions pertaining to specific experience in decision making in the child welfare domain. The entire study was designed to be completed by the respondents in about five minutes.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.