Session: Impact of Individual Differences and Interventions on Child Welfare Workforce Stress and Turnover: On-Going Results from the Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

252 Impact of Individual Differences and Interventions on Child Welfare Workforce Stress and Turnover: On-Going Results from the Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development

Saturday, January 15, 2022: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
Marquis BR Salon 12, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: Child Welfare
Symposium Organizer:
Rebecca Orsi, PhD, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus | Department of Pediatrics
John Fluke, PhD, University of Colorado
Background and Purpose: Child welfare agencies across the U.S. suffer from chronic staffing instability, with typical turnover rates estimated at 20% - 50% within two years of hiring. In 2016, the Children's Bureau funded a five-year project, the Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (QIC-WD), with the primary mission of studying child welfare workforce interventions targeted at reducing turnover. Building on our SSWR 2021 Symposium, we present on-going results from four sites and a preliminary cross-site analysis. The three interventions include: (1) two adaptations of Resilience Alliance to reduce secondary traumatic stress and enhance resilience (Nebraska and Ohio), one of which includes supportive supervision; (2) a job redesign to reduce administrative task demands and increase time with families (Louisiana); and (3) technological innovations to support practice and reduce documentation time (Virginia). All analyses focus on understanding precursors to turnover and/or actual turnover.

Methods: We have employed a coordinated effort across sites to collect common data elements. Our designs leverage the ability to link staff survey data with child welfare and human resource administrative data. Study designs include cluster randomized control trials, interrupted time series, pretest-posttest non-equivalent groups design, and mixed methods. As applicable, we will include how each intervention and evaluation study was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and what adjustments we made.

Results: Changes over time in secondary traumatic stress, burnout and resilience among casework staff in Nebraska were not significantly different between intervention and control groups. However, sub-analyses indicate slight, protective impacts of Resilience Alliance in mitigating burnout among newer workers and increasing resilience among intake workers. Ohio - workers who participated in the intervention (supportive supervision and Resilience Alliance) were significantly more likely than the comparison group to engage in positive coping strategies, perceive better work-life balance, have more job satisfaction, have a greater intent to stay, and experience less STS. In Virginia, where technological supports such as transcription services and tablets have been introduced, we analyzed patterns of caseworker documentation over time, perspectives about and dynamics of tablet use, and turnover rates and timing by race/ethnicity of the caseworkers. In Louisiana we are testing a variety of case practice and workforce outcomes associated with job redesign. Feedback from caseworkers and supervisors indicates that the redesign has reduced time spent on administrative duties, reduced stress, and allowed them to better serve families. Preliminary analyses of survey and administrative data have shown positive impacts on work-related stress and have suggested that the redesign may play a part in reducing rates of foster care admission in experimental versus comparison parishes. Cross-site: Across two state and 10 county administered child welfare agencies involved with the QIC-WD needs assessment process, we found that African American workers experienced significantly lower levels of secondary traumatic stress, especially symptoms of arousal than white workers. We will discuss several hypotheses regarding why this might be so.

Conclusions and Implications: Site results increase the availability of rigorous, replicable social work science that examines a variety of interventions targeted at reducing child welfare staff turnover.

* noted as presenting author
Technology, Case Practice, and Turnover: The Case of Virginia
Dana Hollinshead, PhD, University of Colorado
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