This Institute brought together key stakeholders from many different disciplines, including mental health, public health, national child and family serving organizations, education, employment, human resources, legal and judicial, State legislature, and private non-profit agencies. Nevertheless, in their day-to-day work these diverse professionals touch on the lives of many of the same children and families.
The wide variety of participants at the Institute raises the question, "Who should be involved in efforts to address workforce issues if improving the child welfare workforce is the goal?" There is a need to bring balance to research and practice.
Workforce is a part of everything we do in child welfare. If the child welfare field is to be successful in providing for the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families, then informed strategies for recruiting and maintaining a stable and highly skilled workforce must be implemented. In addition, it is critical to establish strategies for optimizing, professionalizing, and stabilizing the existing child welfare workforce.
In order to shed light on ways to improve the child welfare workforce, we must continue to value youth and family input on what makes a model workforce. For example, the session, "The Impact of Staff Turnover on Services to Children and Youth" presented by Freda Bernotavicz and Sandra Spencer provided an important opportunity for this audience to hear children and a parent discuss their experience with worker turnover and its effects.