Abstract: Associations between Mobile Technology, Case Practice, and Child Welfare Worker Turnover in Virginia (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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Associations between Mobile Technology, Case Practice, and Child Welfare Worker Turnover in Virginia

Friday, January 22, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Dana Hollinshead, PhD, Assistant Research Professor, University of Colorado, Aurora, CO
Background and Purpose: Virginia elected to study the implementation of and outcomes from job modernization technology interventions in 18 localities representing a workforce of approximately 450 of its 2200 frontline staff working within a state-supervised, county-administered child welfare system. Roll-out of these interventions occurred in multiple phases: transcription services implementation occurred between November 2017 - January 2018 and mobility technology (iPads) rolled out between October 2019 – January 2020. The goal of the interventions are to provide work supports that reduce administrative burdens, enhance flexibility of when and where work is accomplished, and free staff to devote more time to engage families, i.e., conduct more social work.

Methods. With the assistance of a QIC-WD Workforce, Implementation, and Evaluation (WIE) Team, VDSS evaluated transcription services implementation and factors associated with turnover. Analyses used data from: 1) a baseline and annual follow up staff survey incorporating psychological, industrial-organizational, and child welfare practice scales; 2) worker-level technology usage records; 3) case-level administrative data reflecting documentation practices over time; and 4) turnover data.

Results. This section will focus on the findings and lessons learned to date about implementation of technological interventions, staff characteristics and the likelihood, degree, and manner of technological adoption, and associations with turnover. VDSS has seen positive results from transcription services and has gleaned valuable insights that guided worker and supervisor training as well as implementation planning for other technology interventions. Findings indicate that while transcription services were not uniformly embraced, they were associated with improvement in the timeliness of casework documentation and increased flexibility for staff, including the ability to complete administrative tasks while out of the office. Multivariate analyses identified associations between worker characteristics such as type of worker (CPS Ongoing vs Foster care), age of worker, perceptions of support, perceptions of workload, intent to leave and the likelihood of using technology. Moreover, early results from mobility indicate that staff using iPads are associated with more extensive documentation of visits than in the past. In addition, since rollout of the iPads was completed just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state was able to leverage this technology to disseminate and implement other remote work supports in a timely manner.

Conclusion. This research has numerous implications for implementing technological advances and using them to support the workforce and reduce turnover. Findings can inform decisions about hiring, training, and/or supervising staff, roll-out of remote work supports, and the administration of child welfare agencies.