Retention of high-quality child welfare workers and leadership is essential to a healthy workforce that meets its goals. Resources in this section describe efforts to reduce child welfare worker turnover and improve retention. It includes studies and reports that highlight both personal and organizational strategies for improvement. Resources include State and local examples.
Episode 24: Workforce Part 4 – Creating Change at the Local Level [Podcast]
Child Welfare Information Gateway (2018)
Shares how agencies in Indiana and San Francisco County, California, empowered their workers to design solutions that improved office culture and retention, while increasing partnerships and outcomes for the children and families they serve.
An Examination of Retention and Length of Employment Among Public Child Welfare Workers
Madden & Scannapieco & Painter (2014)
Children and Youth Services Review, 41
Utilizes data about new child welfare workers from a 10-year period of time to understand personal and organizational factors that may influence length of employment in order to determine the best opportunities to improve retention. Read a visual one-page summary of this article (PDF - 217 KB) from the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute that includes a table categorizing the personal and organizational factors can be found here.
Inventory of Innovations: Workforce Development (PDF - 882 KB)
Capacity Building Center for States (2018)
Discusses recent research on child welfare workforce management, including worker recruitment and retention, professional development, and organizational culture and describes innovative programs that have implemented some of the suggestions discussed in the research. The brief also addresses considerations for innovative solutions related to workforce management in child welfare.
Literature Review: Recruitment and Retention in Health and Human Services (PDF - 1,546 KB)
Harbert & Tucker-Tatlow (2015)
Southern Area Consortium of Human Services
Summarizes relevant literature and highlights individual and organizational strategies that impact recruitment and retention in the human services field. This resource provides a high-level overview of the literature through headings, subheadings, and bullet points that makes the information accessible and actionable.
NCWWI Reference List: Retention (PDF - 206 KB)
National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (2018)
Provides 18 pages worth of references in alphabetical order concerning sources that relate to retention of child welfare workers. Sources included were published between 1995 and 2018.
Peer Support and Workforce Retention
National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (2020)
Examines how two different types of peer support—social-emotional support and operational support focused on task-related behaviors—are associated with child welfare worker retention. Both types of support are associated with improved views of the organizational climate, greater job satisfaction, and increased intent to stay.
Design Teams as an Organizational Intervention to Improve Job Satisfaction and Worker Turnover in Public Child Welfare
Claiborne, Auerbach, Lawrence, McGowan, Lawson, McCarthy, Strolin-Goltzman, et al. (2014)
Journal of Family Strengths, 14(1)
View Abstract and Document
Shares a research study done on the effect design teams that include all levels of workers have on improving job satisfaction and reducing worker turnover. The study found positive results from the use of design teams in the five public child welfare agencies that received the intervention and explores implications for the field.
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 research- and practice-informed practical steps that can be taken in order to improve recruitment and retention of the workforce in child welfare agencies. Steps include the following: 1) Partner with HR, 2) Get Strategic, 3) Create a Competency-Based Culture, 4) Develop Data and Build a Dashboard, and 5) Build a Positive Work Environment.
Improving the Child Welfare Workforce by Better Understanding Employee Retention, Organizational Culture and Climate (PDF - 290 KB)
Mathias, Johnson, & Hermon (2014)
California Social Work Education Center
Analyzes organizational factors that influence the quality of service and retention of staff in child welfare agencies, including worker morale, job satisfaction, and professional organizational culture.
Learning, Negotiating, and Surviving in Child Welfare: Social Capitalitalization Among Recently-Hired Workers (PDF - 289 KB)
Radey, Schelbe, & Spinelli (2017)
Journal of Public Child Welfare, 12(1)
Explores the importance of social support as a possible organizational strategy to reduce turnover. The study summarizes interviews with frontline workers that express how supervisor and coworker support early on in employment can make a difference on retention. Click on the “View Document” tab or “Download PDF” box to see the full-text PDF.
Workforce Development Planning and Assessment Tool Kit: Facilitator’s Guide (PDF - 4,137 KB)
National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) (2018)
Guides facilitators through the implementation of NCWWI’s Workforce Development Planning and Assessment Tool Kit and their Workforce Development Framework (PDF - 860 KB). The Framework was specifically designed to improve the child welfare workforce. The guide includes background information, planning strategies, support materials, steps, and supplemental information.
Coaching in Child Welfare (PDF - 234 KB)
Capacity Building Center for States (2017)
Helps child welfare administrators, managers, and supervisors understand the potential role of coaching in supporting their workforce. Support is key for child welfare worker retention. Drawing from available research, this issue brief discusses coaching functions, effectiveness, models, and strategies.