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July/August 2009Vol. 10, No. 6New Factors in Child Welfare Workforce Turnover

Using a 5-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau, researchers from the New York Social Work Education Consortium conducted a survey to identify the causes and correlates of turnover among child welfare workers and supervisors and to develop strategies to improve workforce retention. Their results are published in a recent article in the Journal of Social Service Research.

Researchers sought to determine which of the organizational, personal, and supervisory variables identified in previous studies are most closely associated with employee turnover in urban and rural child welfare settings. In New York, 447 employees from 13 child welfare agencies, including New York City, four upstate counties, and one Native American community, completed a workforce retention survey.

While results from earlier studies indicated that certain organizational and supervisory factors affected turnover, the current study found that career satisfaction was the most important factor, along with dissatisfaction with paperwork.

The article's authors suggest two implications for child welfare administrators that may lead to improved retention:

  • Administrators should consider ways to reduce the paperwork and record-keeping burdens on their employees.
  • During the hiring process, it may be helpful for administrators to better assess an applicant's interest in a career in child welfare.

The article, "Turnover in the Child Welfare Workforce: A Different Perspective," by Brenda G. McGowan, Charles Auerbach, and Jessica S. Strolin-Goltzman, was published in the Journal of Social Service Research, Volume 35(3), and is available for purchase on the publisher's website: