01/02 We can't include families in the research process unless there's mutual trust established
Throughout our research with Community Based Organizations (CBO's) offering prevention services, a recurring theme that our team learned was that families were in fear of ACS. There were also feelings of stigma that prevented families from fully trusting their ACS caseworkers. Here's what we heard from the CBO providers.
"The challenge for us is that ACS has to come in as investigators. They go in like the police. Whatever time/day it’s on their schedule. It’s not the most relationship-building for our families."
"When ACS says 'do you want services'- it’s implied that they’re going to take their kids away, and that’s the message conveyed. I know ACS is working very hard to change that, but that’s their fear."
"The challenge w/ ACS is that they make the families believe that they have to sign or if not their children will be taken away"
"There are some families that sign up begrudingly- some of the reasons revolve around fear of ACS. Those are the families that are the most challenging to engage."
02/02 The data obtained from interviewing families is unreliable
Furthermore, we also learned that the responses we obtain from families during interviews can be influenced by trauma and fear, thereby yielding unreliable data.
Mai Kobori, design consultant and lead facilitator of the culture-probes workshop highlighted this very phenomenon; that the information we get from conversations with families merely scratches the surface of deeper issues, due to families' fear of saying anything that may potentially incriminate them.
Credit: Mai Kobori from "Probe Workshop: How do we gather inspiration?"
As one Executive Director from a CBO stated, some families may say things just to appease someone who they perceive to come from a position of authority:
When we get brought in- the families will say yes in front of ACS and then once ACS leaves the families say 'I really don't want services, I just wanted to get rid of that ACS rep'
How then, can we incorporate families into the design process so that they can share meaningful, latent knowledge about their experience with prevention-services in a meaningful, dignified, and non-intrusive way?