First Advisor

Nancy Koroloff

Term of Graduation

Spring 2007

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social Work and Social Research


Social Work




Family partnership -- Washington (State) -- Clark County, Youth -- Services for -- Washington (State) -- Clark County, Juvenile justice, Administration of -- Washington (State) -- Clark County Emotional deprivation -- Washington (State) -- Clark County



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, vi, 146 pages)


The participation of families of children with emotional or behavioral disorders is increasingly seen as an essential component of children's mental health services. Although it is frequently discussed in the literature, family participation has not been a major focus of most research surrounding youth with serious emotional disorders (SED). This gap in research is particularly evident in the literature related to those youth who are also in the juvenile justice system. This study explored the concept of family participation in the context of services for youth with SED and examined the relationship between family participation in treatment planning and child outcomes. Qualitative methods were used to examine, in depth, the participation of a subset of families with children involved in a mental health program within a juvenile department.

Secondary data analysis was performed on a data set collected from the evaluation of the System of Care initiative in Clark County, Washington and from the Department of Juvenile Justice records. Qualitative data were collected using both focus group format and through individual interviews with families who are either employed by or enrolled in mental health services within the Juvenile Justice system.

This study supports existing research linking (a) child and family characteristics to child outcomes, (b) child and family characteristics to family participation, and (c) family participation to child outcomes. Results showed that overtime, older children had a decrease in problem behaviors and a decrease in criminal activity, and that a larger number of caregivers in the household was related to an increase in strengths and an increase in criminal activity. Additionally, higher income and higher child functioning were related to participation and participation was related to an increase in strengths and a decrease in criminal activity.

The qualitative results suggest that families experience participation in variety of ways and there are a number of steps that can be taken to facilitate participation. Families did not tie their participation to improved outcomes for their children, they did, however connect their participation to improvements in their own functioning and a lack of child progress to lack of child participation.


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