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The perceived effects of volunteer use by public child welfare agencies

Julia M. Kobulsky, Jamie Cage and Gabriella Celeste

Children and Youth Services Review, 2018, vol. 89, issue C, 27-33

Abstract: Public Child Welfare Agencies (PCWAs) may use volunteers in a number of capacities to support improved youth outcomes while addressing resource shortages and promoting positive community relationships. However, no prior research has examined volunteer use in various capacities by PCWAs and the potential outcomes of this use. This qualitative study explores how PCWAs in one state utilize volunteers and the perceived effects of this volunteer use. Qualitative telephone interviews were conducted with representatives from PCWAs in twelve metropolitan counties. Using grounded theory analysis, interview data were thematically coded and organized into a conceptual model depicting the potential effects of volunteer use on agency and child outcomes. Most (n = 9) agencies used volunteers, but only four used volunteers in roles where they had direct contact with youth (e.g., as mentors). Respondents described volunteer programs as promoting outcomes in three major areas: community engagement, agency access to supports and resources, and positive youth development. Moreover, respondents described potential connections among these outcome areas, with community engagement leading to more supports and resources, which in turn, promoted positive youth development. Findings suggest that the use of volunteers may help PCWAs to achieve their goals of advancing child permanency, safety, and well-being.

Date: 2018
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Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:89:y:2018:i:c:p:27-33