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February 2011Vol. 12, No. 1University of Michigan Recruitment and Retention Project Report

The recruitment and retention of qualified staff, including caseworkers, supervisors, and managers, is a longstanding and pervasive problem in the child welfare system. In 2003, the University of Michigan School of Social Work received a Children's Bureau grant to develop, implement, evaluate, and disseminate an effective and comprehensive training curriculum for recruiting and retaining a competent workforce at public child welfare agencies. The final report of that project was recently produced and posted on the project website.

The report describes the university's partnership with the Michigan Department of Human Services (MDHS) to develop and deliver curricula for MDHS and contract agency staff in four areas:

  • Cultural humility training to help child welfare staff develop and maintain mutual respect and a collaborative relationship with the diverse populations with whom they work—more than 500 frontline workers and supervisors received this training.
  • Legal training to discuss child welfare worker involvement in the court process—148 individuals, including frontline workers and supervisors and several child welfare attorneys, participated in this training.
  • Supervisory skills training to give supervisors additional support in several areas, including decision-making, communication, and managing difficult people—119 supervisors received this training.
  • Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) training addressing the interaction between ICWA, other Federal policies, and agency policies—92 individuals received this training, including MDHS and contract frontline workers and Tribal caseworkers.

The report indicates that overall participant ratings for each curriculum were above an 8 on a 10-point Likert scale.

Another component of the grant was to collect data about recruitment and retention at MDHS, including focus groups with staff, a longitudinal study of recent hires and lateral transfers of MDHS and contract agency staff, exit interviews with former MDHS staff, and the evaluation of MDHS's realistic job preview.

Read the final report on the project website: (263 KB)

Additional information about the project, including training materials and research findings, can be found on the project website:

Related Item

Children’s Bureau Express last wrote about this project in "Workforce Retention in Michigan" (February 2007).