UNH Research Connection

Publication Date: 
Monday, March 4, 2013 - 9:16am

The Center for Professional Excellence in Child Welfare is a part of the University of New Hampshire's Social Work department.  One of the benefits of CPE's affiliation with UNH is our ability to draw upon and share the faculty's research with DCYF.  CPE is proud to be able to dedicate this space to spotlighting faculty publications of interest to child welfare and juvenile justice professionals.  

In this edition, CPE will share the abstracts of two studies conducted by Dr. Patrick Shannon.  Shannon is an Associate Professor in the UNH Social Work Department.  He also serves as the social work faculty member for the New Hampshire Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (NH-LEND) program, which focuses on creating collaboration among the various professions that work to address developmental disability issues.  Shannon has a BA in Human Services and a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from the University at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York as well as a Ph.D. in Social Work from the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, Virginia.  His practice interests include supporting children with developmental disabilities through advocacy, family support, program evaluation research, and analysis of disability related policy.  His research focuses on systemic barriers to sevices for children with develomental disabilities, including access to early intervention services, health care, behavioral supports in schools, and juvenile justice.  His current research is focused on the child welfare system's ability to respond to and suppot children with developmental disabilities.  


Youth with Learning Disabilities in the Juvenile Justice System: A Training Needs Assessment of Detention and Court Services Personnel

This first article is concerned with recognizing the importance of supporting youth involved in the juvenile justice system who have learning disabilities.  This study was published in Child & Youth Care Forum.  The article begins with an explanation of the importance of professional familiarity with learning disabilities among youth with juvenile justice involvement.  It then describes a survey designed to identify the training provided to professionals in the juvenile justice field on the topic of learning disabilities.  Ultimately, the survey indicated that juvenile justice professionals sometimes lack confidence in their knowledge of learning disabilities and, further, that many desire additional training to be held regionally, so as to decrease disruption of their professional responsibilities.  The abstract is below:

ABSTRACT: This study examines the training needs of juvenile justice personnel regarding their work with youth who have disabilities, particularly learning disabilities. Proportionate stratified cluster sampling was used to survey juvenile detention and court services personnel statewide about previous training and confidence of knowledge in these areas.  Findings indicate that less than two-thirds (62%) of respondents had received training about persons with disabilities and less than half (47%) had received training about persons with learning disabilities.  Some myths about learning disabilities continue to persist more than others.  Knowledge about learning disabilities is considered to be important and training is desired.  Suggestions for planning future training events are offered.

Kvarfordt, Connie L., Purcell, Patricia, Shannon, Patrick. (2005). Youth with Learning Disabilities in the Juvenile Justice System: A training needs assessment of detention and court services personnel. Child & Youth Care Forum, 34(1), 27-42. DOI: 10.1007/s10566-004-0880-x

Identifying Children with Developmental Disabilities Recieving Child Protection Services: A National Survey of Child Welfare Administrators

This article discusses a study that was designed to determine what sort of needs the child welfare field may have pertaining to adequately identifying and providing appropriate services to children and youth with developmental disabilities.  It begins by defining developmental disabilities as "a physical or mental impairment that begins before 22 years of age that alters or substantially inhibits a person's capacity to do at least three of the following: (a) take care of themself (dress, bathe, eat, and do other daily tasks); (b) speak and understand clearly; (c) learn; (d) walk/move around; (e) make decisions; (f) live independently; and (g) earn and manage an income" (Shannon & Agorastou, 2006).  The authors then describe the increased level of risk experienced by children and youth with a developmental disability before sharing the results of the a survey that they administered to child welfare agencies across the nation.  The findings of the survey indicate significant variation from state to state in the approach taken to developmental disability issues.  Ultimately, the study found that, in general, child welfare agencies could benefit from increased training in the identifying, interviewing, and providing appropriate and timely services for children and youth with a developmental disability.  The abstract for this article is below:

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine the ability of U.S. state child protection service (CPS) agencies to identify children with developmental disabilities who have been maltreated and provide them with services to meet their unique needs.  The subjects were 50 state-level child welfare administrators (including the District of Columbia) who were knowledgeable about the data collections requirements in their states.  The findings of this study are presented and compared with data collected from two previous studies.  Findings indicate that less than one-half of state child welfare agencies identify children with developmental disabilities.  The implications of the findings highlight the need for improved data collection procedures, staff and foster care family training regarding disabilities, and improved collaboration with traditional developmental disability-related providers.

Shannon, Patrick & Agorastou, Maria. (2006). Identifying Children with Developmental Disabilities Receiving Child Protection Services: A national survey of child welfare administrators. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 87(3), 351-357. 


CPE hopes to use this, and similar research, to guide the trainings we offer to juvenile justice and child welfare staff and we'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Are you interested in additional training on children and youth with learning disabilities?  Would you like to learn more about how to identify service needs of children and youth with developmental disabilities? CPE's goal is to unite your learning goals with all the resources and research at our disposal, so let us know what you think!  Simly email your training liaison if you'd like to discuss this further.

Newsletter Edition: 
Ben Martin