BRYCS conducted an online assessment in the Spring 2003 which was distributed to child welfare administrators in all 50 states. The focus of this assessment was to find out more about the challenges public child welfare staff have in providing services to newcomer families. Responses were from directors, supervisors, and caseworkers from over 16 different states and the District of Columbia. Please take a moment to look at the data below which provides a brief overview of the preliminary findings.

Respondent Demographics:
Total Respondents: 141
Number Analyzed: 91
Administrators, Directors/Supervisors: 53%
Case workers/Direct service: 35%
Average number of years at agency: 11 years
Average number of years in the field  of public child welfare: 13.5 years

Almost 2/3 indicated they “frequently” or “always” worked with newcomer families.

Three significant areas of need were identified by respondents:

  1. More resources and knowledge regarding newcomer cultures;
  2. Better understanding of newcomer populations among agencies that sub-contract with public child welfare; and
  3. More concise information regarding newcomer cultures in a readily available and understandable format.

Areas of challenge identified:

  • Interpreters
    • 66% identified interpreters as an area of challenge.
    • Of the 66%, 62% said they find it difficult to find interpreters who speak certain languages.
  • Community Contacts
    • 51% identified community contacts as an area of challenge
    • Of the 51%, 67% said there are not enough appropriate contacts in communities they serve.
  • Understanding of Different Cultures
    • 45% identified understanding of different cultures as an area of challenge
    • Of the 45%, 54% said they do not have enough time to search for additional information regarding different cultures.
  • Foster Care
    • 44% identified foster care as an area of challenge.
    • Of the 44%, 85% said it is difficult to identify enough potential foster families of similar languages, ethnicities or religions as newcomer children.
  • Mental Health
    • 44% identified mental health as area of challenge.
    • Of the 44%, 63% said they were uncertain about how to explain the concept of mental health in a culturally appropriate way.