Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Social Work

Additional Departmental Affiliation

Political Science

Document Type



For three consecutive years, Kentucky has dealt with the worst rates of child maltreatment in the United States. Kentucky has implemented numerous measures to address this crisis. While many research efforts have focused on perceptions of children involved with child welfare services, there are few efforts researching the perception of judges and lawyers about parents involved with family court services.

This study used a mixed-methods approach to explore the perceptions of Kentucky Family Court Judges and family law attorneys about parental involvement with child welfare services as a result of substance misuse and/or mental health issues. The qualitative component of this study included one-on-one interviews with Kentucky Family Court Judges. The interviews collected the judges’ perceptions of parental involvement within Dependency, Neglect, and Abuse (DNA) cases related to substance misuse and/or mental health issues. The quantitative portion included a Likert Scale survey that was administered to attorneys in Kentucky with experience working with the Kentucky Family Court. This survey assessed the attorneys' attitudes towards parents involved with DNA cases relating to substance misuse and/or mental health issues.

Specifically, this study described the court’s perceptions of parental involvement in DNA child welfare cases resulting from substance misuse and/or mental health issues. Finally, areas of improvement for parental involvement were identified when comparing the perceptions of judges and attorneys to the intended goals of the family court system.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

April Murphy, Ph.D., CSW


Legal Studies | Political Science | Social Work