Bridging Disciplinary Boundaries (January 11 - 14, 2007)

Friday, January 12, 2007: 8:00 AM-9:45 AM
Marina Room (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
Improving the Child Welfare Workforce: National Estimates, Validation of Key Constructs, and a Randomized Clinical Trial
Organizer:Nancy Dickinson, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Discussant:Robin E. Perry, PhD, Florida A & M University
Characteristics and Job Satisfaction of Child Welfare Workers: A National Study
Richard P. Barth, PhD, E. Christopher Lloyd, MSW, Nancy Dickinson, PhD, Mimi V. Chapman, PhD
Child Welfare Worker Turnover: Understanding and Predicting Who Actually Leaves
Nancy Dickinson, PhD, John Painter, Jung-Sook Lee, MSW, MA
Improving Organizational Culture, Climate and Staff Turnover in Child Welfare Systems
Charles Glisson, PhD
Abstract Text:
Child welfare worker turnover is widely seen as placing an upper limit on the capacity of child welfare policies and programs to effectively assist maltreated children and their families. Foundation, state, and federal studies and initiatives—including one by IASWR--are addressing ways of understanding and improving the recruitment, retention, and training of CWWs. The complex legal, contextual, cultural, and interpersonal demands of child welfare services are not mastered readily—experience as a service provider offers opportunities for learning that are critical to effective practice. Retention of workers is critical because practice experience and understanding of common practice wisdom are very important in fields like child welfare, education, and medicine, where there are relatively few discrete teachable procedures that have been proven to be effective. A combination of quality education, training, supervision, and institutional environment are probably needed to achieve desired outcomes so that CWWs remain in agencies long enough to be able to deliver expected services for maltreated children and their families. The recruitment, selection and retention issues faced by child welfare agencies are numerous and readily acknowledged throughout the professional literature, as are descriptions of practices to address the issues. Articles that have described these issues and proposed new initiatives have not been able to rigorously document the multi-faceted dimensions of the workforce crisis or report what factors contribute significantly to solutions. The research on these initiatives is for the most part immature, descriptive, and local. Statewide studies describe child welfare worker training and attitudes as well as organizational correlates of worker intent to stay. Yet the field lacks information from national surveys, prospective studies that combine survey and administrative data, and intervention studies. Each of these types of studies is provided here—all for the first time.

This symposium will consist of three presentations, and comments from a discussant, with the focus on answering questions about child welfare workforce dynamics. The first paper offers the first national survey data of child welfare workers and describes the contributors to their job satisfaction, a key ingredient in worker retention. The second paper presents findings from survey data that offer three domains of worker related dynamics that are related to intent to stay, identifies three clusters of workers with varying intent to stay, and then uses these clusters and domains to predict worker turnover as indicated by administrative data from human resources, during the following two years. The third paper presents the findings from an NIMH-funded randomized clinical trial that tested and contrasted strategies to improve the culture and climate of child welfare agencies and that demonstrates the effects on child welfare worker retention. Taken together, the findings from this symposium indicate progress in conceptualizing and measuring factors that contribute to retention of workers and present interventions that are available to improve job satisfaction and retention.

See more of Symposium

See more of Bridging Disciplinary Boundaries (January 11 - 14, 2007)