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Turnover of frontline workers, as well as supervisory and management staff, is a major concern in many child welfare agencies. In some jurisdictions, worker turnover is as high as 90 percent per year, while in others, turnover is fairly minimal. Turnover of senior managers and administrators also presents challenges for agencies, and greater attention is being given to succession planning and leadership development. The following resources focus on the causes of turnover and some proposed solutions, including State and local examples.
Child Welfare Policy Briefing: Child Welfare Workforce (PDF - 788 KB)
Kelleher, Chávez, & Sciamanna (2011)
Explores ways to set appropriate standards to improve child welfare agencies’ practices and system functioning and outcomes for children and families by using workload management studies to determine how workers are spending their time.
Existence, Relatedness, or Growth? Examining Turnover Intention of Public Child Welfare Caseworkers From a Human Needs Approach
Chen, Park, & Park (2012)
Children and Youth Services Review, 34(10)
Discusses a study that developed a conceptual framework to examine what motivates caseworkers' turnover intention. The article also addresses how administrators and management can attenuate turnover intention by enhancing caseworkers' growth needs with respect to meaningfulness of daily practice, rewards, and the development of personal career goals.
Information Packet: Workforce Issues in Child Welfare (PDF - 125 KB)
National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (2009)
Explores high turnover rates among child welfare staff and recruitment and retention challenges, shares facts and statistics on staff turnover, and reviews key provisions and recommendations addressing child welfare workforce issues in Federal legislation and policies.
Organizational Inclusion, Commitment, and Turnover Among Child Welfare Workers: A Multilevel Mediation Analysis
Hwang & Hopkins
Administration in Social Work 36(1), 2012
Focuses on an attitudinal variable of organizational commitment as a mediator and examines why turnover intention among child welfare workers would be affected by worker’s perception of inclusion, at the organizational level, at different organizations using multilevel analysis. Includes the results of the study showing that individual worker’s organizational commitment plays a mediating role between organizational inclusion and individual turnover intention.
What Can Be Done to Promote the Retention of Social Workers? A Systematic Review of Interventions
Webb & Carpenter
British Journal of Social Work, 41(7), 2011
Discusses the long-standing concerns in many developed countries about high workforce turnover within social work and the associated negative impact on service users and agencies. A systematic review of research in social work, teaching, and nursing identified and appraised the evidence that interventions addressing organizational and administrative factors (rather than individual employee factors) produced stronger effects, reinforcing current policies in England and previous research into the determinants of turnover.
State and local examples
A Better Understanding of Caseworker Turnover Within Child Protective Services (PDF - 170 KB)
Center for Public Policy Priorities
Analyzes turnover data on Texas' child protective services caseworkers and makes recommendations about how turnover can be reduced.
Child Welfare Workforce Turnover: Frontline Workers' Experiences With Organizational Culture and Climate, and Implications for Organizational Practice (PDF - 1,332 KB)
Provides research findings based on secondary data from a workforce study conducted by the Child Welfare
Partnership at Portland State University's School of Social Work where child welfare caseworkers in Oregon were asked directly to answer the following question: "What are the organizational factors that lead frontline child welfare workers to stay or leave the agency, and what, then, are the implications for agency administrators?"
Improving Outcomes for Children and Families Served by DSHS Children's Administration Through Savings and Reinvestment of Services (PDF - 231 KB)
Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28 (2010)
Discusses the high caseloads, staff turnover, and inconsistent resources hampering child welfare services in Washington State, and makes recommendations for improving services.
Maryland Child Welfare Workforce Recruitment, Selection, and Retention Study
Hopkins & Cohen-Callow (2007)
University of Maryland, School of Social Work
Highlights turnover and vacancy trends over the last few years, caseloads, supervision rations, and salaries. Individual and organizational factors related to withdrawal behaviors and turnover are also discussed.