• June 2010
  • Vol. 11, No. 5

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Workforce Turnover and Career Commitment

The consequences of high turnover in the child welfare workforce are costly. A recent study, "Commitment to Child Welfare Work: What Predicts Leaving and Staying?" notes a number of negative outcomes of high turnover, including workers with less experience making important decisions about child safety, higher caseloads for remaining workers (which leads to lower quality of services), and agencies forced to use their limited funds to train new workers.

In an effort to identify ways to predict worker commitment, researchers conducted a longitudinal study of 460 workers in a Midwestern State who were new to their child welfare agencies. The study examined the reasons that study participants chose their current job and worked in child welfare, their commitment to their agencies and to child welfare, and how these variables relate to worker turnover. Findings from the study indicate:

  • Commitment to the agency and to child welfare, good supervision, and job satisfaction contribute to preventing turnover.
  • More than 80 percent of both public and private agency workers decided to work in child welfare so they could help children and families.
  • Public agency workers tended to have taken the job because of pay, benefits, job security, opportunities, and variety, while private agency workers were more likely to have taken the job because it was the only job available, it was a good first job to take, and they had heard good things about the agency.
  • Viewing a State's Realistic Job Preview video, which aims to depict a position accurately, is associated with still being on the job at the time of follow-up.
  • Good supervision and higher job satisfaction were also associated with staying on the job.

"Commitment to Child Welfare Work: What Predicts Leaving and Staying?" by Kathleen Coulborn Faller, Marguerite Grabarek, and Robert M. Ortega, was published in Child and Youth Services Review, Vol. 32(6), and is available for purchase online:

www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V98-4YC80K2-1/2/d2a7ff7ec816523fa28c6bcb7fe92145

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