Virtual Issue Featuring Outcome Studies on Child and Adolescent Social Work Practice

We are pleased to bring to the readership of the Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal this small collection of empirical studies focusing on the outcomes of social work programs and practices.  While social work research embraces many diverse and valuable epistemologies and research methods, we confess a particular fondness for the approaches represented in these selected works. Reflecting a generally positivist approach to discovering valid knowledge, these outcome studies involve the assessment of client functioning usually measured with one or more reliable and valid methods of assessment (dependent variable), a treatment or program (independent variable) which is described in sufficient detail so as to permit replication by others, and each embedded in a research design involving before and after measures of client functioning with a treatment provided in between these two assessments. 

Simple group designs like this can be very useful in answering simple questions, e.g., Did our client improve after receiving social work services?  More sophisticated group research designs, especially those involving randomly assigning clients (with their informed consent) to active treatment or to some other condition, e.g., delayed treatment, treatment as usual, a placebo-type treatment, or in some cases, to no treatment at all, may enable the social worker to make causal inferences regarding the effects of treatment, compared to no treatment, existing services, or placebo influences. Demonstrating that clients got better after our services is very useful.  Demonstrating that they got better because of our services is more useful still. Rigorous evaluations of the effects of social work, especially with positive outcomes, move the profession far along the path of maturation as a science-based discipline. This was a dream of some of our founders such as Mary Richmond and Edith Abbott.  We invite the reader to examine these selected studies, and to consider not just the explicit results, but also the implications of these examples for social workers in everyday agency setting to order to undertake similar evaluations of practice.

Bruce A. Thyer, Ph.D., LCSW, BCBA-D

Lisa Schelbe, Ph.D.


This Virtual Special Issue includes the following articles which are temporarily free to read through May 29, 2020.

Emotional and Behavioral Problems and Psychosocial Skills in Adolescents in Residential Care

Authors: Joana Campos, Maria Barbosa-Ducharne, Pedro Dias, Sónia Rodrigues, Ana Catarina Martins & Mariana Leal

The Relationship Between Israeli Youth Participation in Physical Activity Programs and Antisocial Behavior

Authors: Mona Khoury-Kassabri & Helen Schneider

Peer Support in the Homeless Youth Context: Requirements, Design, and Outcomes

Authors: Sean A. Kidd, Nina Vitopoulos, Tyler Frederick, Mardi Daley, Kamika Peters, Khaled Clarc, Sue Cohen, Rose Gutierrez, Scott Leon & Kwame McKenzie

Engaging At-Risk Fathers in Home Visiting Services: Effects on Program Retention and Father Involvement

Authors: Sandra McGinnis, Eunju Lee, Kristen Kirkland, Carolyn Smith, Claudia Miranda-Julian & Rose Greene

An Evaluation of the Positive Action Program for Youth Violence Prevention: From Schools to Summer Camps

Authors: Megha M. Patel, Jessica L. Liddell & Regardt J. Ferreira

Implementing Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) with Latino Youth

Authors: Annette C. Allison & Regardt J. Ferreira