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July/August 2023Vol. 24, No. 6Umbrella Summaries Address Child Welfare Workforce Challenges

Written by the Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development

The Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (QIC-WD) is charged with synthesizing the current state of research to build knowledge about effective strategies to improve workforce outcomes. One tool we use to share research is the Umbrella Summary. Umbrella Summaries provide a synopsis of the published meta-analyses of a specific workforce topic. With so many studies out there, why do we only pull from meta-analyses? A meta-analysis is a study that quantitatively synthesizes results across many individual studies, overcoming the inherent limitations of individual studies, to arrive at overall conclusions that are more reliable, accurate, and generalizable. Our team draws from child welfare literature as well as other professional fields such as management, business, industrial/organizational psychology, organizational behavior, applied psychology, and human resources. Our goal is to succinctly summarize research that is applicable to the child welfare workforce. 

There are currently 77 Umbrella Summaries that cover a variety of topics. Information in each Umbrella Summary is presented in a question-and-answer format and includes a series of QIC-WD Take Aways that highlight the implications of the research for child welfare professionals. In addition, each summary includes a complete list of references if you’re interested in the meta-analyses that informed it. You can search our Umbrella Summaries by key word or topic. Topics include alternative work arrangements, employee attitudes, employee characteristics, employee well-being, hiring, job characteristics, onboarding, organizational context, organizational culture and climate, performance, recruitment, selection, stress and secondary trauma, supervision, training and development, and turnover.

The following Umbrella Summaries address workforce issues throughout the employee lifecycle and reflect both employer and employee roles in an organization. This is just a sample of the available Umbrella Summaries and the information below features links to additional resources that address these popular topics:

  • Recruitment – Since the pandemic and the great resignation, recruitment has been a major concern for many employers. This Umbrella Summary also highlights employee fit and realistic job previews as evidence-informed strategies to attract candidates to your child welfare agency.
  • Organizational Socialization – Commonly referred to as onboarding, organizational socialization is important because it is associated with several workforce outcomes such as job satisfaction and intentions to quit. The QIC-WD recently did a webinar on this topic and shared tips on what supervisors can do to support new employees.
  • Perceived Organizational Support (POS) – It is important for employers to convey commitment to their employees, especially in child welfare agencies where the job is complex and the workload can be taxing. POS is important because it is associated with many job attitudes and behaviors and organizational citizenship behaviors.
  • Employee Engagement – This is a strong predictor of job performance and the research bears some resemblance to thriving in the literature. There are scales and interventions to assess and address employee engagement that child welfare workforce leaders can use.

The QIC-WD continues to produce Umbrella Summaries and feature them in our other materials to leverage research from other fields for child welfare professionals. Our goal is to create a series of digestible resources that inform decision-making and increase access to evidence for those involved in managing the child welfare workforce.