Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Robert Heasley, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Betsy Crane, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Wade Seibert, Ph.D.


Child abuse is a multi-system problem in that different agencies are charged with different responsibilities in its investigation, evaluation, intervention and treatment. This study explored the roles and relationships of team leaders and team members on child abuse case review teams in Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) in Pennsylvania. The CAC model has been shown to be a successful collaborative community response to child abuse. This study reviewed the historical background of child abuse and the progression of society’s response in developing a collaborative approach. The multidisciplinary team, as it became known, is critical to identifying and managing cases of child abuse. Multidisciplinary team members coordinate services to address issues that cannot effectively be solved by only one system’s interaction. Understanding the leadership of multidisciplinary teams and the roles and responsibilities of the team members has been the focus of this research. An important aspect of the integrated CAC model is the case review process. My findings from the qualitative methods used in this study have highlighted the qualities of trust, respect and commitment as important in establishing and sustaining effective multidisciplinary child abuse teams. In addition, key components for consideration included: alignment of foundational documents, leadership quality, meeting location, meeting attendance and participation, and leadership boundaries. Team leaders and members value the collaborative process and voiced expectations of discipline representation, attendance and participation in case review meetings. These results will inform existing CACs and developing programs, as well as other private sector and non-profit agencies of the benefits of team member and leader acceptance of divergent perspectives and open communication in how to best manage collaborative teams.