Abstract: A Multi-Dimensional Well-Being Framework for the Child Welfare Workforce (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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192P A Multi-Dimensional Well-Being Framework for the Child Welfare Workforce

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Erica Lizano, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, CA
Amy He, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Robin Leake, PhD
Background: Worker well-being within public child welfare (CW) organizations is of central concern given the impact that worker well-being has on individual and organizational outcomes. Research indicates that factors associated with worker well-being, including secondary traumatic stress and burnout, are associated with worker retention, turnover, intent to stay on the job, and the quality of services provided to families (Glisson, & Green, 2011; Kim, & Kao, 2014). Therefore, just like CW organization are given specific federal mandates to capture well-being indicators of children and families whom they serve, better guidance is needed about how to think about and measure well-being of their workforce. Moreover, there is a gap in the literature that succinctly provides “best practice” guidance to CW organizations and leadership on what worker well-being means or what data is needed to assess this phenomenon.

As most of CW workforce consists of frontline caseworkers who interact regularly with and provide essential services to families, appropriately capturing well-being indicators of these workers is critical to building and maintaining a healthy CW workforce, mitigating factors that impact well-being, and supporting efforts to deliver quality services to families involved in the CW system.

Purpose: In light of the dearth of theoretical frameworks and research on what constitutes worker well-being, especially as it relates to understanding and identifying key aspects of well-being among the CW workforce, we present a well-being framework for the CW workforce.

Proposed Conceptual Framework: Drawing from field of business management, organizational health psychology, and World Health Organization’s (2020) definitions of well-being, our framework includes operational definitions for the three key dimensions of worker well-being: 1) psychological/affective (e.g. psychological safety, job satisfaction); 2) physiological/physical (e.g. low secondary traumatic stress, physical safety in the workplace); and 3) behavioral (e.g. self-care practices). To facilitate the assessment of worker well-being within CW organizations, we provide operational definitions of these dimensions and present them alongside established and reliable scales previously used in CW workforce studies and other related fields (e.g. mental health fields, counseling). Furthermore, we propose practical strategies for the collection of key well-being data indicators as it pertains to CW organizations.

Conclusions and Implications: Any effort to promote and maintain worker well-being first requires a common understanding of what well-being looks like and how to assess for it. The proposed well-being framework and practical strategies presented for the collection of important well-being indicators in CW organizations will promote understanding of this phenomenon and inform organizational practices aimed at supporting the CW workforce.


Glisson, C., & Green, P. (2011). Organizational climate, services, and outcomes in child welfare

systems. Child abuse & neglect, 35(8), 582-591.

Kim, H., & Kao, D. (2014). A meta-analysis of turnover intention predictors among US child

welfare workers. Children and Youth Services Review, 47, 214-223.

World Health Organization. (2020). World Health Organization: Constitution. Retrieved from