All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Lynn Kirkland

Advisory Committee Members

Laura Bloom

Lois Christensen

Grace Jepkemboi

Fran Perkins

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education


UNDERSTANDING THE DESCRIBED EXPERIENCES OF COURT JUDGES, COURT APPOINTED SPECIAL ADVOCATES (CASA) VOLUNTEERS, DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES'CASEWORKERS, AND FOSTER PARENTS MITSY COLLIER WILBOURNE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to identify the described experiences of court judges, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers, Department of Human Resources' caseworkers, and foster parents in the southeastern United States to enhance the early childhood educational needs and development of children in out-of-home care. The study was designed with cases so various perspectives were examined. Children who were neglected and abused, specifically those who must be removed from their parent's custody and placed in out-of-home care, were at enormous risk educationally. This risk was compounded exponentially when neither school districts nor child welfare agencies attend to the educational needs of this highly at-risk population of children (Zetlin, Weinberg, & Kimm, 2003). This study sought to explore the experiences of professionals and volunteers who determined the placement, permanency, and educational outcomes of children in out-of-home care. This case study sought to answer the following research questions: 1. What emphasis is placed on the early childhood education of a child in out-of-home care when the state takes responsibility of a child from his biological parents? 2. In order to recommend placement of a child in out-of-home care what information is needed? 3. What emphasis is placed on the early childhood educational progress or lack of progress of a child in out-of-home care? 4. Who responds when recommendations are made regarding additional early childhood educational needs of a child in out-of-home care? The six participants were purposefully selected because they worked with the placement of children in out-of-home care. The participants were a court judge, a residential home director, a CASA caseworker, a DHR caseworker, and two elementary school counselors. The data was collected through observations and individual interviews. The observations and interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed to provide rich, thick description using the words of the participants (Geertz, 1983). The transcripts were coded and six themes were identified. These themes were composed into a narrative description that corresponded with the findings of the research questions.

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