Culture & context: a comparison of the Romanian and Californian child protection and mental health systems and their perceived efficacy

This study attempts to elucidate some of the complexity of the Romanian and California Child Welfare systems and provide insight that will enhance the outcomes of the children within them. This is done by synthesizing 1) the history of these agencies, 2) literature on the effects of these systems on children and effective treatments for traumatized children, and 3) the efficacy of the systems as perceived by the social service workers in close proximity to these systems. Six participants were recruited, three from Romania and three from California. They were interviewed to determine their views on their respective system. Relevant themes were gleaned from the data, such as the prevalence of stigma toward children in these systems, the role of attachment in the development and treatment of trauma, and the overall desire for change within these systems. These, along with other themes, were analyzed in relation to existing literature and several key concepts were identified. These concepts included the need for a shift in cultural perspective in order to reduce stigma toward foster youth, especially LGBTQ foster youth, as well as the need for systemic change. Consistency, permanency, early intervention, and trauma informed care were identified as crucial elements of successful interventions, and steps should be taken in order to incorporate them into these systems of care.