Influencing Policy within the State Child Welfare Agency with (Less than) "Perfect" Research

  • Carol Hostetter Indiana University
  • Gail Folaron Indiana University


Asked by the state child welfare agency head to conduct "perfect research" on the educational and training needs of child welfare case managers, the authors met with methodological challenges. The article tells the story of their search for relevant information despite multiple compromises. Advisory groups, focus groups, online and mailed surveys, and administrative data provided triangulation of diverse stakeholders' viewpoints. In the end, using mixed methods resulted in valid findings that were confirmed and supported by the state administration. With the research and help from advocacy groups, the agency changed its hiring and training policies.

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