Positive outcomes for children and families involved with the child welfare system are often due to the strong commitment of a dedicated child welfare workforce. The child welfare system is only as good as the people who provide services to children and families and those who manage service delivery. Building a stable and effective workforce remains difficult for many child welfare agencies, as they may find it a challenge to recruit, hire, train, support, and retain committed, high-performing staff. The resources in this section describe workforce development and provide insights into a range of workforce-related topics, including professional preparation, recruitment, ways to improve retention and minimize staff turnover, and how the child welfare workforce can work to increase capacity while maintaining self-care. These resources are targeted to child welfare professionals, but we recognize interaction with other systems is important to support child protection and maltreatment prevention. Professionals from the courts, peer mentors, health-care workers, substance use treatment providers, prevention partners, foster parents, and others may find these resources useful.
- Professional preparation
- Well-being of the workforce
- Caseload & workload
- Using social media in child welfare
- Virtual and remote workforce needs
- Appreciating, celebrating, & honoring the workforce
Competency-Based Workforce Development: A Synthesis of Current Approaches (PDF - 514 KB)
Brittain & Bernotavicz (2015)
National Child Welfare Workforce Institute
Explains the use of competency models to guide the recruitment, selection, preparation, and retention of new hires into the child welfare workforce. These models contain the competencies necessary for specific child welfare roles at multiple levels, including caseworker, supervisor, and manager.
Five Steps to a Stronger Child Welfare Workforce: Hiring and Retaining the Right People on the Frontline (PDF - 2,673 KB)
Annie E. Casey Foundation (2018)
Outlines five steps that child welfare agency leaders can take to improve the child welfare workforce in the areas of recruitment, hiring, evaluation, workforce innovation, competencies, data, and others. The guide provides implementation timelines, tips and tools, and real-world examples for each step.
Inventory of Innovations: Workforce Development (PDF - 882 KB)
Capacity Building Center for States (2018)
Addresses the need for current information about innovations in child welfare that present possible solutions to the challenges faced by State and jurisdictional agencies.
Mind the Gap #9: Achieving Racial Equity Through Workforce and Organizational Change [Video]
National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (2017)
Describes an effort to advance racial equity at every level in the child welfare workforce and to become more fair and reflective to the communities they serve.
NCWWI Communications Guide: How to Advance Organizational Goals Through Effective Messaging, Storytelling, and Public Relations (PDF – 1,900 KB)
National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (2020)
Provides information to help programs improve their existing communications strategies to support systemic change, build public support, strengthen the workforce, improve partnerships, increase community collaboration, and enhance perceptions.
The Need for an Expanded View of the Child Welfare Workforce
Children's Bureau Express, 19(7)
Presents an expanded view of the child welfare workforce in which it is more than just the child welfare agency and its employees. Other branches and systems, partners, and stakeholders, such as the courts, attorneys, children, foster families, prevention partners, community providers, substance use treatment providers, mental health professionals, and many others, should also be considered part of the workforce.
Social Work Educator Resources - Racial Equity
National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (2018)
Provides resources on the topic of racial equity in the child welfare workforce. This compilation of resources is intended for use by child welfare professionals and leaders as they aim for racial equity in the workplace. The website also offers tips and tools, discussion guides, and self-assessments that cover culturally responsive child welfare practice, data and analysis, education and training, implantation and evaluation, and more.
Strengthening the Child Welfare Workforce
American Youth Policy Forum
Discusses the changing role of child welfare workers since the passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act and their importance in executing the provisions of the law. The blog links to toolkits and additional resources dealing with workforce development, workforce excellence, social work education, and other related topics.
Using Implementation Science to Strengthen the Child Welfare Workforce
Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (2018)
Describes the use of implementation science to strengthen the child welfare workforce in eight child welfare agencies across the United States.
Virtual Communities of Practice in Child Welfare: A Review of the Literature
Richards & Melz (2020)
James Bell Associates
Summarizes research on virtual communities of practices (VCoP) that support peer learning and professional development. The literature review focuses on five components and strategies of successful VCoP: membership, participation, knowledge management and creation, learning, and practice.
Why Diversity Is Important in Child Protection
National Council on Crime and Delinquency
Explores how child welfare agencies should invest in diversity training along with recruiting a more racially diverse workforce. Child welfare workers who share or understand the diverse cultures and backgrounds of families served can produce better outcomes, and child welfare organizations benefit in other ways from having a more diverse workforce.
Why the Workforce Matters (PDF - 130 KB)
National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (2016)
Presents an infographic showing an overview of the child welfare workforce and why it matters. The graphic presents information on services provided, challenges faced, and why workforce development efforts are important to strengthen the workforce and improve outcomes for children and families.
Why Workforce Development Matters: Child Welfare Workers Making a Difference Day by Day
Briar-Lawson & McCarthy (2019)
Children's Bureau Express, 20(5)
Describes the child welfare workforce and why workforce development is a top priority for the Children's Bureau. The article touches on work being done by the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute, the Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development, States, and other jurisdictions and Tribes across the country.