• July/August 2001
  • Vol. 2, No. 4

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State of the Child Welfare Workforce Examined

High turnover rates and complex recruitment problems were just a few of the findings from a recent child welfare workforce report.

The collaborative study by the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA), Alliance for Children and Families (Alliance) and the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) was conducted in the Fall of 2000. APHSA mailed surveys to all State public child welfare agencies and a sample of county agencies; CWLA and the Alliance mailed surveys to a sample of their private agency members.

Highlights of the APHSA portion of the responses include:

  • State vacancy rates were relatively low for identified staff groups (child protective service workers, other direct service workers, supervisors, and total agency staff); county vacancy rates were lower than States' rates for all staff groups.
  • Annual staff turnover rates were high for all State and county staff groups except supervisors.
  • State annual preventable turnover rates (i.e., turnover other than retirement, death, marriage/parenting, returning to school, or spousal job move) were also high for all staff groups except supervisors; however, county annual preventable turnover rates were very low for all worker groups, and were rated as "less problematic" compared to the States.
  • Both States and counties viewed recruitment problems as varied, complex, and widespread (e.g., lack of qualified candidates, other attractive labor market alternatives for job seekers, perceived imbalance of demands of job and financial compensation, and non-competitive starting salaries).
  • Factors in staff recruitment issues were varied and complex; many strategies have been implemented, but no "quick fixes" exist.
  • The affects on child welfare agencies of vacancies caused by turnovers was compounded by commonly required pre-service training and phased-in caseload policies.
  • Strategies implemented by States regarding preventable turnover generally resulted in modest effectiveness; however, county-implemented strategies presented higher effectiveness compared to the States.
  • The extent of change experienced by counties was somewhat more positive than the States' change.

APHSA, CWLA, and the Alliance have a partnership to gather data on effective practices in recruiting and retaining a quality workforce, and the scope and nature of child welfare workforce challenges.

The Report from the Child Welfare Workforce Survey: State and County Data and Findings can be accessed on the APHSA website at http://www.aphsa.org, or by contacting APHSA directly at:

American Public Human Services Association
810 First St., NE, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20002-4267
Phone: 202-682-0100
Fax: 202-289-6555

Related Item

Visit the website of the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse for the related article, When Days Are Gray: Avoiding Burnout as Child Abuse Professionals (http://www.ndaa-apri.org/publications/newsletters/update_volume_14_number_4_2001.html).

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