Background: Although human service professionals are critical to prevention of primary and secondary disabilities among those who are or could be affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol surprisingly little information is available on their knowledge, attitudes, or beliefs about this problem. This article presents the results from a statewide survey (2005) undertaken in the United States to gain such information.
Objective: The purpose of the study was to : a) measure the knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) of professionals working in the fields of child welfare/child protective services, foster care, and Medicaid enrollment, and b) use that knowledge to inform educational and training resources to help them with their work.
Methods: A purposive sample of human service professionals in 42 counties completed a self-administered survey patterned after similar FAS surveys for other professionals.
Results: The results were based on answers from 1,168 human service professional respondents that showed that they were knowledgeable about primary prevention. However, it also revealed that they had lesser knowledge of epidemiology, how to recognize children with FAS, and methods to work with them. The fact that 90% of the respondents reported they did not care for children with FAS - is an important finding.
Conclusions: Although these findings suggest that human service professionals are knowledgeable about primary prevention, they lack additional education and assertive assessment protocols. These resources are needed to help them work with families and children who are already affected by exposure to alcohol in utero.
Key Words: Fetal alcohol syndrome, community health services, child welfare, social work, community outreach, preventive health services