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April 2010Vol. 11, No. 3The Impact of Realistic Job Previews in Child Welfare

High worker turnover in the child welfare system is expensive in terms of both dollars and the impact on services for children and families. In a recent study conducted by Kathleen Coulborn Faller et al., "Realistic Job Previews in Child Welfare: State of Innovation and Practice," the use and effectiveness of videos that provide realistic job previews (RJPs) as tools for recruitment, selection, and retention for child welfare employees was reviewed. The article, published in Child Welfare, explores the development of RJPs, the content of RJPs used with child welfare, and the impact RJPs have on the industry.

RJPs have been present in businesses for 40 years, with the goal of providing potential employees an accurate picture of what the new position will entail. A lower turnover rate and higher job satisfaction are expected if employees have a realistic view of their job.

The authors analyzed the content of 10 States' RJPs and identified seven child welfare task areas they found in common:

  • Working with children
  • Working with families
  • Removal of children
  • Neglect
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Court work
  • Working with others

The emphasis of each RJP varied, although there seemed to be a greater emphasis on working with families versus working with children. All RJPs viewed by the authors also addressed the job-related stress that child welfare workers often feel.

The study's authors interviewed human resources personnel associated with seven of the RJPs. Each participant in the study considered the use of RJPs to be beneficial when used for recruitment, retention, and selection in the child welfare field. However, outcome data had been collected for only one State. In that case, the employees who had viewed the RJP before being hired were more likely to still be at their jobs than those employees who had not viewed the RJP.

"Realistic Job Previews in Child Welfare: State of Innovation and Practice," by Kathleen Coulborn Faller, Michael Masternak, Claudette Grinnell-Davis, Marguerite Grabarek, Judy Sieffert, and Freda Bernatovicz, was published in Child Welfare, Vol. 88(5), and is available for purchase online: