Proposed Model: Based on previous studies organizational climate (Glisson, Dukes, & Green, 2006), supervisor and peer support, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, commitment to the Field of Child Welfare Services (CWS), and service orientation (APHSA, 2005; Landsman, 2001; Mor Barak, Nissly, & Levin, 2001; Smith, 2005) have been found to be important influences on retention. The proposed model included these variables as explanatory factors of child welfare retention at two levels: organizational represented by group/team affiliation, and individual levels. On the organizational level, organizational climate was configured as stressful or engaging in nature. Supervisory and peer support and the other variables mentioned above were included as individual factors. Finally, retention intentions of social workers in the current employing agency and in the Field of CWS were outcome variables in the model.
Methods: This study included a sample of social workers, case managers and supervisors (n=767) in 11-PCWS agencies in California. The study participants were configured in 34-groups in the 11-PCWS agencies for multi-level analysis. The analyses were completed using multiple regression and multilevel modeling (MLM). MLM was used to test cross-level interactions in the data and was accomplished with the Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM6) program.
Results: Several significant findings will be discussed in the presentation. One particularly interesting finding was that supervisor support had a significant explanatory relationship with retention in participants' current employing PCWS organizations and in the Field of CWS. Peer support, however, was a significant predictor of retention in the PCWS agency but not retention in the Field of CWS. In addition, engaging organizational climates appear to have a positive moderating influence on the predictive relationship between supervisor support and retention in PCWS agencies. When participants were in groups that perceived organizational climates as more engaging; the relationship between supervisor support and retention in their employing PCWS agencies was significantly strengthened.
Implications: This study is the only study to date that has simultaneously tested multi-level factors concerning two outcomes: retention in PCWS organizations and in the Field of CWS. The findings from the study lead to many implications. One of the most important is the crucial role PCWS supervisors have in shaping the career trajectories of social workers/case managers that clearly emerges from this study. A goal of PCWS supervision should be to acculturate social workers in a positive manner to the Field of CWS in order to encourage longevity in the field and improve services through workforce stability. Finally, enhancing the engaging qualities within PCWS organizational climates is likely to increase retention in these agencies.