• September 2018
  • Vol. 19, No. 7

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Exploring the Self-Care Practices of Child Welfare Workers

Research has shown that child welfare workers experience higher rates of vicarious trauma, workplace stress, and compassion fatigue than other social service workers and that practicing self-care may help to alleviate the stress associated with this challenging line of work. A study brief published in Children and Youth Services Review discusses the self-care practices of child welfare workers in one southwestern state and examines the relationship between self-care practices and demographic as well as professional variables, such as financial situation, marital status, major area of study for their highest academic degree, type of employer (for profit or nonprofit), and membership in a professional organization.

The study used a cross-sectional survey to gather demographic (e.g., age, race) and professional (e.g., time in child welfare practice, education level and type) information from 222 participants. Next, researchers employed the Self-Care Practices Scale, an 18-item measure used to gauge the frequency in which study participants engaged in professional and personal self-care practices.

Findings from the study include the following:

  • Study participants were only engaging in moderate professional and personal self-care.
  • Data suggested that study participants who belonged to professional organizations were more likely to engage in self-care practices compared with those who did not.
  • Participants who had better health and financial statuses were more likely to engage in self-care.
  • Self-care scores were higher for participants who reported they were married or in a relationship.

The study also provided implications for child welfare agencies and emphasized the importance of promoting the well-being of staff by drawing systematic attention to organizational wellness initiatives that are supported by organization leaders and by gathering input from staff about ways to promote well-being and self-care.

"Exploring the self-care practices of child welfare workers: A research brief," by J. Jay Miller, Jessica Donohue-Dioh, Chunling Niu, and Nada Shalash (Children and Youth Services Review, 84), is available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740917308174.

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