• August 2003
  • Vol. 4, No. 6

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Meeting the Challenge: Recruiting and Retaining Quality Staff

Research shows widespread problems such as poor pay, a lack of growth opportunities, and limited guidance and support pose great challenges to frontline social service workers, including those in the child welfare field. A new, in-depth study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation identifies the attributes of social service systems that have a real chance of recruiting and retaining quality workers who can make a difference for children and families.

These attributes, detailed in the report The Unsolved Challenges of Systems Reform: The Condition of the Frontline Human Services Workforce, include:

  • Flexibility and freedom to recruit for the skills needed
  • Rewards for superior performance and effectiveness
  • Reasonable workloads that let workers deploy their skills
  • Career paths that build on workers' skills rather than moving them up and out
  • Clear performance expectations that relate to a coherent organizational mission
  • Training and development opportunities on the job
  • Ability to change bad management and supervision
  • Adequate base compensation that can help stem turnover

The report, which addresses job conditions in the fields of child welfare, child care, juvenile justice, youth services, and employment and training, is available online from the Annie E. Casey Foundation at www.aecf.org/publications/hswip.pdf.

Related Items

The Brookings Institution Center for Public Service released a study, The Health of the Human Services Workforce, that includes a survey of the same five sectors as the Annie E. Casey Foundation's research. The report is available online at www.brookings.org/gs/cps/light20032603.htm.

Read more about workforce challenges in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:

  • "GAO Reports on Child Welfare Staffing Challenges" (June/July 2003)
  • "News From the Child Welfare Training Resources (CWTR) Online Network: CWLA Releases Documents on Workforce Issues" (January 2002)

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