Abstract: A Path Model to Examine Turnover, Job Satisfaction, and Authentic Behaviors Among Child Welfare Workers (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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A Path Model to Examine Turnover, Job Satisfaction, and Authentic Behaviors Among Child Welfare Workers

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Valley of the Sun E, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Rain Lee, PhD, Research Associate, Yeshiva University, New York, NY
Yoon Mi Kim, PhD, Associate Professor, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Kutztown, PA
Sojin Kim, PhD, Associate Professor, JoongBu University, Korea, Republic of (South)
George Kovarie, Instructor, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
Andrea Maxi, MSW, Graduate Research Assistant, Yeshiva University
Background and Purpose: Child welfare is one of the most complex and emotionally draining fields in social services (Depanfilis & Salus, 2003). Many counties in Pennsylvania faced a sharp increase in referrals (Assad, 2017) with the new Pennsylvania Child Protection Services Laws. Existing studies have focused on linking turnover rate with organizational climates (e.g., types of organizations, workloads) and motivation to work (Fernandes, 2016; Park & Pierce, 2020). However, little is known about how caseworkers' authentic behavior and court work may impact their intent to leave. This study aims to investigate the impact of the type of agency, job satisfaction, and authentic behaviors on the intent to leave among child welfare caseworkers.

Methods: Child welfare agencies in Pennsylvania (N=688) were recruited for this study. Variables were included caseworker characteristics (age, gender, and race/ethnicity), organization type (e.g., private and public), and authentic behavior (balance processing, relational transparency, and internalized moral perspective) (Leroy et al., 2012). The Intent to Leave Child Welfare Scale (ILCW) was used, and three dimensions were derived from the results of confirmatory factor analysis: thinking (e.g., how often thought about leaving), looking (e.g., looked in paper), and acting (e.g., sent out resumes) on leaving (Claiborne et al., 2015).

Results: Overall, when caseworkers expressed the positive relationship with court staff, the intention of leaving decreased, including thinking of leaving (β = -1.28; 95% CI [-2.14, -.41], p < .05); looking (β = -2.15; 95% CI [-3.55, -.75], p < .05); and acting (β = -3.13; 95% CI [-5.09, -1.18], p < .05). There was a significant indirect effect. Individuals’ relational transparency partially mediated the positive effects of satisfaction with salary/benefits and looking for other employments (β = -1.38; 95% CI [-2.63, -.13], p < .05); a significant indirect effect of relational transparency on acting on leaving the job via satisfaction with salary/benefit (β = -3.13; 95% CI [-5.09, -1.18], p < .05).

Conclusions and Implications: The results showed that caseworkers' authentic behavior plays a protective factor for turnover. This highlights the core of authentic behavior among workers: "maintaining true to one's self." Caseworkers want to be heard; if not meaningful, input in their work environment. In this sense, child welfare organizations need to provide staff avenues to guide and shape practice considerations. Further, a positive relationship with the court reduced caseworkers' intention to leave their jobs than salary and benefits. The study implies that not all caseworkers leave welfare agencies for the same reason, nor are financial rewards or high workload the main predictor of wanting to leave. Creating an environment where caseworkers present their true selves (i.e., relational transparency) and building a positive relationship with courts staff is recommended to retain caseworkers in child welfare. Throughout the presentation, actionable, interdisciplinary recommendations concerning high turnover rates among caseworkers in child welfare agencies will be discussed.