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Rural Child Welfare Practice

Stories from the Field

Edited by Joanne Riebschleger and Barbara J. Pierce

Publication Date - 07 February 2018

ISBN: 9780190870423

240 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Rural Child Welfare Practice presents real-life case vignettes for educating and training students and professionals to work with diverse rural children and families.


Drawn from real stories of rural child welfare practice, Rural Child Welfare Practice displays lessons learned from people working in the services field of child welfare. The casebook has 18 chapters illustrating rural child welfare practice rewards, challenges, strategies, and practice wisdom. Case vignettes include racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, and rural diversity, with particular attention to working with Native Americans/American Indians as well as First Nation (Canada) and Aborigine (Australia) people. The book also covers a wide range of child welfare services - such as protective services, kinship care, and adoption - through a variety of perspectives. It is particularly useful for students, professionals, and educators exploring what today's rural child welfare experts say must happen to engage in effective rural child welfare practice with children and families.


  • Provides real-life rural child welfare case material and discussion questions for social work and other human services profession students.
  • Includes material for focusing on generalist, ethical, and culturally sensitive practice.
  • Features an examination of the south, north, east, west, and middle of the United States, as well as Canada and Australia.
  • Includes background information with professional literature, case vignettes, "take away" learning applications, summaries, discussion questions, learning/teaching activities, recommended resources/readings, and a bibliography.
  • Useful for child welfare training, especially for workers beginning practice in rural areas.

About the Author(s)

Joanne Riebschleger, PhD, LMSW, ACSW, is an Associate Professor at the School of Social Work at
Michigan State University. For over two decades, she practiced rural social work with children and
families. She is a consultant to a national child welfare workforce development project and served as
past Vice President to the National Rural Social Work Caucus. She has been a social work educator for
nearly two decades.

Barbara Pierce, PhD, LCSW, ACSW, is an Associate Professor at the Indiana University School of Social Work. She has over 30 years of social work experience working with children, youth, and families. Despite her urban upbringing and education, she practiced for most of her career in small towns and rural communities in Indiana and Louisiana and has developed a deep respect for those communities and the people who live in them. She has been a social work educator for 17 years.


"Rural Child Welfare Practice: Stories from the Field provides a unique examination of rural child welfare from the theoretical to the dirt-road practical ... The book makes a valuable contribution not only to the overall body of knowledge on child welfare practice, but to the scant literature focused on understanding rurality and social work." -- Kirsten Havig, Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work

"Joanna Riebschleger and Barbara Pierce have written an accessible introductory book regarding the unique nuances of rural child welfare practice. The authors examine rural child welfare practices in several areas throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia and give excellent case vignette examples that highlight the complexities of the diverse array of clients and situations that often present themselves." -- The Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work

"Riebschleger, Pierce, and their authors provide a new and important survey of the current issues in providing child welfare services in rural areas. It's a topic that was once recognized as a crucial issue in protective and substitute care for the large numbers of children in rural areas throughout the world. Children in rural areas, both in the U.S. and around the world, face gaps in the help they need because of their relative isolation. This book helps social work practitioners understand and deal with their exceptionally vulnerable clients." Leon Ginsberg, PhD, MSW, former Dean and Carolina Distinguished Professor, College of Social Work, University of South Carolina

"This is a compelling, engrossing volume for practitioners and students on rural child welfare practice. Offering pragmatic social work practice knowledge, the authors guide the reader on a unique journey though many rural settings and lands. Cases, practice scenarios, guiding questions, and exercises are presented along with challenges and dilemmas such as dual relationships. Explicit attention to Native American families and the Indian Child Welfare Act - in addition to indigenous and First Nation children and families - adds to the social-justice, cross-cultural, and international richness of this book." Katharine H. Briar-Lawson, PhD, MSW, Professor and Dean Emeritus, School of Social Welfare, SUNY University at Albany

Table of Contents

    Joanne Riebschleger

    Chapter 1: Rural Child Welfare Practice
    Joanne Riebschleger and Barbara Pierce

    Chapter 2: Theories for Rural Child Welfare
    Barbara Pierce

    Chapter 3: Poverty, Pavement, and Paying Attention: Rural Child Welfare Practice in the American Great Plains
    Debra Norris

    Chapter 4: Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match: Rural Resource Family and Child Matching
    Heather Craig-Oldsen

    Chapter 5: Cultural Humility within Rural-Practice Wisdom
    Debra Norris

    Chapter 6: Adoption Social Work in Rural New England
    Barbara Pierce

    Chapter 7: Working with Aboriginal Families in Canada
    Khadija Khaja

    Chapter 8: A New Social Ill in Ishpeming
    Joanne Riebschleger

    Chapter 9: On Your Country: Living and Working Respectfully with Aboriginal Families in Rural Australia
    Rochelle Hine

    Chapter 10: Rural Social Work in a Native American Community
    Toni Hail

    Chapter 11: Providing Services to Children of Recent Military Veterans
    Andrea Kephart

    Chapter 12: Domestic Violence Post-Deployment: The Case of the Martin Family
    Steven M. Hyer

    Chapter 13: Child Welfare: Two Kingdoms Collide
    Susie Touchton Cashwell

    Chapter 14: Coming-Out in Rural America: The Case of Emilio Hernandez
    Richard Brandon-Friedman and Gail Folaron

    Chapter 15: Technology and Child Welfare Practice: Lessons from Montana
    Charlie Wellenstein

    Chapter 16: Foster-Care Stigma and Ethical Boundary Violations in the Rural Child Welfare Workplace
    Angelique Day

    Chapter 17: Rural Relationship, Resources, and Rhythms: A Child Welfare Training Program Learns about Workforce Development for (and from) Rural and Tribal Child Welfare Workers
    Katharine Cahn and Michelle Warden

    Chapter 18: Secondary Trauma Prevention in Rural Child Welfare: Professionals' Self-Care Strategies
    Joanne Riebschleger and Barbara Pierce


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