• July/August 2015
  • Vol. 16, No. 6

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Retention, Turnover of Child Welfare Professionals

Using data obtained from focus groups with 25 child welfare professionals, a recent Children and Youth Services Review article explores factors affecting their retention and turnover. The workers had varying years of experience, roles (case managers and supervisors), and employment statuses (currently employed at the agency or resigned). The two primary themes that emerged for retention efforts were a supportive environment (e.g., positive interactions with children and families as well as coworkers) and opportunities within the agency (e.g., advancement, job security). For turnover, the two primary themes were organizational issues (e.g., high caseload and workloads, low compensation, negative interactions with parents and foster parents as well as the courts) and stress. The article highlights the importance of agencies increasing their focus on improving retention rather than just decreasing turnover, which is a more strengths-based approach. Recommendations from focus group participants to reduce turnover and increase retention are also provided, including the following:

  • Reduce caseload: Workers suggested that fewer cases would not only lead to more attention to the families and faster reunifications, but also help retain staff since caseloads would be more manageable.
  • Provide assistance: Workers recommended hiring more staff to help reduce caseloads and assist with home visits. They also listed other types of assistance, including help with transporting children to appointments and having support staff to assist with specific types of cases that require more expertise and time.
  • Increase salary: Workers suggested increasing the starting salary for case managers, and that increases should consider years of experience, education, quality of work, and commitment to the organization.
  • Training: Workers recommended increasing the number of field days for training as well as being given opportunities to shadow experienced case managers, receive more hands-on training before being assigned full caseloads, and have a gradual assignment of cases.

"Child Welfare Workers' Perspectives on Contributing Factors to Retention and Turnover: Recommendations for Improvement," by C. Johnco, A. Salloum, K. Olson, and L. Edwards, Children and Youth Services Review, 47, 2014, is available for purchase at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740914003879.

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