The tasks of recruiting and retaining a workforce as well as delivering services in rural communities differ from these same tasks in urban communities. For example, access to services—such as substance use disorder treatment, mental health care, and parenting classes—necessary for child welfare practice is often more difficult in rural counties than in urban communities. Furthermore, rural communities present serious ethical dilemmas for child welfare practice, particularly dilemmas related to dual relationships, confidentiality, caseworker competence in related fields, and utilizing natural helper networks. Find resources in this section related to working in rural communities.
Child Sexual Abuse and Rural Areas (PDF - 773 KB)
Evans-Thompson, Brooks, & Green (2017)
Discusses factors that contribute to the incidence of child sexual abuse in rural communities.
Child Welfare Peer-to-Peer Call: Rural Resource Families [Video]
Shares strategies for recruiting, developing, and supporting resource families in rural communities.
The Development of Dual and Multiple Relationships for Social Workers in Rural Communities
Piche, Brownlee, & Halverson (2016)
Highlights factors that increase the likelihood of dual and multiple relationships for service providers in rural communities when conflicts of interest are not immediately clear.
How Can Child Welfare Systems Support Families in Rural Communities?
Casey Family Programs (2020)
Discusses how to approach the unique characteristics of rural communities and make creative use of both traditional and nontraditional funding streams to ensure the best possible services are being provided to children and families. The article describes challenges faced by rural areas and key strategies for working in rural communities.
National Association for Rural Mental Health
Develops and enhances rural mental health and substance abuse services. The professional organization's members from the rural mental health community include consumers, family members, practitioners, administrators, educators, researchers, and policy makers.
The National Rural Health Association
Provides information on a nonprofit membership organization that hosts conferences and provides publications, including the professional quarterly publication, Journal of Rural Health, and the quarterly online human interest magazine, Rural Roads.
Rural Prevention and Treatment of Substance Use Disorders Toolkit
Rural Health Information Hub (2018)
Discusses promising best practices and resources for implementing substance use prevention and treatment programs in rural communities.
The Strengths and Challenges of Child Abuse Prevention in Rural Communities [Video]
Strategies TA (2021)
Discusses Humboldt County in California and their varying approaches and improved efforts on preventing child abuse and neglect.
Rural Health Information Pub (2018)
Provides a toolkit to help care coordinators to collaborate with related professionals across the continuum to provide services for children with complex health-care needs.