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June 2004Vol. 5, No. 5Addressing the Staffing Crisis in Child and Family Services

Staffing shortages and workforce issues continue to impact the quality and availability of child and family services around the country. Advocasey, a publication of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, tackles the topics of burnout and staffing shortages among frontline human services workers in its Spring 2004 issue.

The issue first cites statistics on the numbers of workers leaving and entering the field (40+ percent annual turnover), as well as on-the-job dangers (more than half of child welfare workers are victims of violence or threats on the job) and low levels of pay. To address these concerns, the publication then presents a series of articles highlighting promising practices in agencies around the country:

  • "Who's Taking Care in Greenville?" cites funding and South Carolina's progressive human resources management program as contributing to some of the positive results in area services. State employees have received some benefits from reforms that reward employee performance and give more flexibility in hiring to local offices.
  • "Just-in-Time Hiring" looks at a Michigan program that hires social workers in advance of crises, thereby lowering caseloads, improving services for needy children, and attracting better workers.
  • "The Cincinnati Solution" describes Hamilton County's contract with the unionized human services workers, which is a performance-based pay agreement.
  • "Upgrading the Workforce: Three More Successes" reports on actions taken at the agency, county, and State levels to combat high turnover rates and dissatisfaction among employees.

The full text of this issue of Advocasey can be downloaded at{F62AD12A-5FEF-4B11-88C6-706357DE3366}.

Related Items

The Winter 2003 issue of Professional Development: The International Journal of Continuing Social Work Education focuses on training and supervision in five articles that address themes of worker training, the supervisory role, evaluation, and competence across cultures and with mental health evaluations. Subscription information can be found at

Children's Bureau Express explored the issues of staff retention and burnout in the following articles:

  • "Meeting the Challenge: Recruiting and Retaining Quality Staff" (August 2003)
  • "Reports on Child Welfare Staffing Challenges" (June/July 2003)
  • "State of the Child Welfare Workforce Examined" (July/August 2001)