Turnover of frontline workers, as well as supervisory, management, and administrative staff, is a major concern in many child welfare agencies. Although some turnover is expected and unavoidable, maintaining a stable workforce is key to a healthy child welfare workforce that meets its goals. Use these resources to understand the causes and impact of turnover along with efforts to reduce child welfare worker turnover and improve retention. Resources include State and local examples.
Calculating Turnover [Video]
Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (2017)
Presents a video featuring Megan Paul, workforce team lead for the Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development, discussing how to calculate turnover in a child welfare agency.
Supporting Child Welfare Staff: The Critical First Three Months [Webinar]
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau & Child Abuse and Neglect Technical Assistance and Strategic Dissemination Center (2018)
Reviews the importance of the first 3 months of employment for child welfare workers, highlighting secondary traumatic stress and the importance of reducing it to decrease turnover. The webinar recommends infusing support for trauma and stress into each phase of employment, including hiring, orientation, training, the first few months, and beyond.
Top Causes of Staff Turnover at Child Welfare Agencies – And What to Do About It
Annie E. Casey Foundation (2019)
Discusses how child welfare leaders can work to create a positive work environment and reduce turnover.
Worker Turnover Is a Persistent Child Welfare Challenge – So Is Measuring It
Paul, Harrison, Litt, & Graef (2022)
Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development
Presents observations about the ongoing challenges of turnover and measuring turnover in the field of child welfare.
Five Steps to a Stronger Child Welfare Workforce: Hiring and Retaining the Right People on the Frontline (PDF - 2,675 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 human resources, (2) get strategic, (3) create a competency-based culture, (4) develop data and build a dashboard, and (5) build a positive work environment.
The Importance of Job Demands and Supports: Promoting Retention Among Child Welfare Workers
Radey & Wilke (2021)
Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal
Presents the results of a study that examined the demands and supports to promote retention among child welfare workers and provides information on how child welfare agencies can work to improve retention rates.
Inventory of Innovations: Workforce Development
Capacity Building Center for States (2018)
Discusses recent research on worker recruitment and retention, professional development, and organizational culture and presents innovative solutions related to workforce management in child welfare.
Peer Support and Workforce Retention (PDF - 668 KB)
National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (2020)
Examines how peer support at an organization is associated with improved views of the organizational climate, greater job satisfaction, and increased intent to stay.
Attachment Theory, Supervision, and Turnover in Child Welfare, January 1, 2019 (PDF - 118 KB)
Child Welfare, 97(1)
Examines factors related to turnover, including supervisory support through the lens of attachment theory, and explores how applying this theory to the supervisor-supervisee relationship may moderate turnover in child welfare.
Coaching in Child Welfare
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.
Impacts of Transformational Leadership on Turnover Intention of Child Welfare Workers (PDF - 605 KB)
Park & Pierce (2020)
Children and Youth Services Review, 108
Analyzes how leadership affects child welfare worker turnover intentions and found that leadership training can reduce preventable turnover.
Management Practices to Promote Home Visitor Retention: What Does a National Study of the Home Visiting Workforce Tell Us? (PDF - 184 KB)
Lou, Sandstrom, & Benatar (2021)
OPRE Report #2021-193
Summarizes findings on management practices from a study of home visiting staff experiences and perceptions of the field. Findings showed that several management practices are related to home visitors’ intentions to stay in their job or in the field.
Organizational Culture, Supervision and Retention of Public Child Welfare Workers (PDF - 366 KB)
Journal of Sociology and Social Work, 6(2)
Examines the satisfaction and retention of child welfare workers when supervisors are effective managers and find better outcomes when supervisors cultivate feelings of caring and safety.