This qualitative study examines worker perceptions of how public child welfare agencies' purchase of service contracts with private behavioral health organizations can both facilitate and constrain referral making and children's access to services. Five, 90-min focus groups were conducted with workers (n = 50) from an urban public child welfare agency in the Midwest. Using a modified grounded theory approach, findings suggest that contracts may expedite service linkages, but contract benefits are conditioned upon design and implementation. Results also suggest the critical role of front line workers in carrying out contractual relationships. Implications for research and interventions for enhancing contracting are discussed.
Alicia C. Bunger, Yiwen Cao, Amanda M. Girth, Jill Hoffman, and Hillary A. Robertson. 2016. Constraints and Benefits of Child Welfare Contracts with Behavioral Health Providers: Conditions that Shape Service Access. Administration and Policy in Mental Health 43(5): 728-739.