Session: Crossing over: Supporting Rigorous Evaluation of Workforce Development Interventions in Child Welfare (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

284 Crossing over: Supporting Rigorous Evaluation of Workforce Development Interventions in Child Welfare

Sunday, January 19, 2020: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Marquis BR Salon 12, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Child Welfare (CW)
Anita Barbee, PhD, University of Louisville, John Fluke, PhD, Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse & Neglect, Cynthia Parry, PhD, CF Parry and Associates, Robert Blagg, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles and Michelle Graef, PhD, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Many child welfare agencies face persistent recruitment and retention challenges. Compared to national turnover rates of approximately 3.5% across all jobs and 1.5% for government jobs (Bureau of Labor Statistics, n.d.), the average annual child welfare rate is approximately 20% (American Public Human Services Association, 2005), with staff staying an average of only two years (GAO, 2003). In addition to impacting coworkers and families, studies of child welfare turnover indicate that the cost of replacing one worker is between $10,000 and $49,000 (Graef & Hill, 2000), resources otherwise needed to support children and families. Agencies that look to research for interventions to retain child welfare workers will find that, despite progress, there is a dearth of evidence of what works. Prospective and experimental research focused on implementation and outcomes is needed to identify interventions that are effective and the conditions under which they work best.

The US Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Children's Bureau funded a Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (QIC-WD) for five years. The Center is a collaborative effort among partnering universities and consultants, including: University of Nebraska – Lincoln, the University of Louisville, the University of Colorado – Denver, the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, and the University of California – Los Angeles.

The QIC-WD partners with public child welfare agencies to conduct a multi-site project, with the goal of generating evidence of how to improve workforce and child and family outcomes for public and tribal systems. In order to establish evidence that will add to the child welfare knowledge base, several workforce intervention studies are underway.

We propose to conduct roundtable discussion to create a dialogue regarding cross-site supports that scaffold the level of rigor required to conduct evidence development of this complexity. A panel with varied expertise (e.g., social work, organizational psychology, workforce development, public health, and evaluation) will elaborate the experience of coordinating a study of diverse workforce interventions focused on a single outcome: reducing staff turnover in child welfare settings. Panelists will address needs identification and intervention selection processes, intervention implementation and support strategies, multi-site research, and constraints highlighting the utility of shared project resources and infrastructure (e.g., implementation supports, cross-site data collection, administrative data shells, and data quality procedures).

The learning objectives for this roundtable discussion are to engage the audience in a discussion about the opportunities and challenges of 1) working with multiple sites and a federal partner in a participatory fashion to implement utilization-focused, site-specific, and cross-site evaluation strategies to build knowledge, 2) implementing a complex systems evaluation approach to comprehensively identify the interactions of factors (e.g., organizational structures, culture, workload) that influence outcomes (e.g., safety and permanency of children), and 3) developing innovative solutions for leveraging within and cross-site complexity to identify what workforce interventions work, for whom, and under what conditions.

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