Friday, 14 January 2005 - 2:00 PM
This presentation is part of: Workforce Issues in Child Welfare
Does Educational Background Impact Upon the Performance and Retention of Child Welfare Workers?Robin E. Perry, PhD, Institute for Health and Human Services Research.
Public child welfare agencies have long been key training and employment settings for professional social workers (Rubin, 1981; Sheehan, 1976; CSWE, 1960). Regardless, within the last twenty years, the deprofessionalization of many public sector jobs has made those positions unappealing to professionally educated social workers (Leighninger & Ellett, 1998; Dressel et al., 1988; Groulx, 1983; Getzel, 1983). Specific concern is focused on the limited number of MSWs employed in public child welfare services, since several studies suggest that those child welfare workers with MSWs are more competent and better prepared for the stresses typically encountered in public child welfare services than non-MSWs (Dhooper, Royse, & Wolfe, 1990; Liebermann et al., 1988; Booz-Allen & Hamilton, 1987; University of Southern Maine, 1987). Many of these authors also suggested that states with minimum degree requirements of a BSW or an MSW for public child welfare staff have lower vacancy and turnover rates than states with no such requirements. These studies, however, differ in design rigor and their representative nature.
This paper will present findings from a study that focuses upon the performance evaluations and retention of Child Protective Investigators (CPI) and Child Protective Service (CPS) workers and their supervisors in Florida between March 2002 and March 2003. In Florida, CPI and CPS workers are evaluated on one standard performance criterion and up to nine additional performance expectations developed in consultation with their supervisor using a standardized measurement scale. A content analysis of these individualized expectations produced a classification of 11 standard expectations that would be utilized for analyses. Their peers, using a standardized scale, also evaluate workers’ performance with respect to nine areas of functioning. Supervisors’ performance is rated on a standardized scale measuring 20 performance expectations that are considered “critical elements” of supervisors’ job role. A proportionate stratified random sample was used to select 25% (n=457) of all CPI and CPS workers that received performance evaluations in March 2002. The sample was stratified first by class title (i.e., whether the worker was a CPI or CPS worker) and then by education major/professional background. The education majors most represented in the study population include those with undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology, social work, criminology, sociology, business, and education. The entire population of supervisors that received evaluations in March 2002 (N=299) was selected for this study. A series of ANOVA, OLS and logistic regressions, and multivariate analyses have been or will be conducted to gauge whether performance evaluations and retention levels of workers and supervisors vary according to their educational background and level while controlling for select demographic (e.g., age) and work-related (e.g., district and service unit employed in) variables. Preliminary analyses suggest that the performance of CPI and CPS workers does not vary according to educational background or level. These findings may prove influential as Florida moves toward privatized child welfare system and considers minimum hiring standards for agencies contracted with to provide child welfare services.
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