Child welfare scholars continue to underscore the importance of workforce well-being (Lizano, 2021). While many studies have focused on establishing threats to well-being through measuring compassion fatigue and burnout, few studies have established the prevalence of positive indicators of well-being (e.g. resilience). The primary purpose of this study was two-fold. First, this study sought to examine the prevalence of positive indicators of well-being among child welfare workers including resilience, self-compassion, compassion for others, and compassion from others. Second, this study examined if there were differences in positive indicators of well-being between direct service workers and supervisors working in child welfare.
This study was conducted as a part of a five-year federally funded child welfare research initiative in a Midwestern state. The sample included 129 child welfare direct service workers and supervisors who were participating in a resilience intervention. Participants completed pre-test surveys prior to beginning the intervention. These surveys including the Brief Resilience Scale (Smith et al., 2008) and the Compassionate Engagement and Action Scales (CEAS) (Gilbert et al., 2017) which included scales for self-compassion, experiencing compassion for others, and experiencing compassion from others. Each of the compassion scales included engagement and action subscales. The engagement subscale measured engagement with distress. The action subscale measured active responses to distress. A cut-off was created based on the median of the scale, with scores under 40 considered low, scores between 41 and 60 considered typical, and scores over 60 considered high. Basic descriptive statistics were used to investigate sample characteristics and prevalence of positive indicators of well-being. One-way ANOVAs were used to investigate differences between direct service workers and supervisors.
Findings suggested that participants had resilience within the typical range (M=3.58, SD=0.77). Results included four key findings regarding the prevalence of self-compassion and compassion for others. Findings suggested that participants had: (1) Low self-compassion (Engagement M=35.86, SD=7.31; Action M=26.33, SD=6.84); (2) High compassion for others engaging with their distress (M=41.91, SD=7.00); (3) Low compassion for others actively responding (M=30.88, SD=5.05). Two key findings suggested that participants: (1) Experienced compassion from others engaging with distress (M=40.99, SD=11.95); (2) Did not experience compassion from others by active response (M=29.14, SD=8.50). No significant differences were found between direct service workers and supervisors for resilience, self-compassion, or compassion for others. However, significant differences were found for both subscales of the compassion from others scale. Direct service workers reported experiencing higher compassion from others on the engagement subscale (F(1,127)=11.70, p=<0.001). Additionally, direct service workers reported experiencing higher compassion from others on the action subscale (F(1,127)=10.697, p=<0.001).
Findings contribute to the literature by building an evidence base regarding positive indicators of well-being among child welfare direct service workers and supervisors. Findings may suggest a need to bolster resilience, self-compassion, compassion for others, and compassion from others for this population. Moreover, findings may indicate supervisors are experiencing less compassion from others than direct service workers. Further research is needed to measure other positive indicators of well-being and to investigate interventions supporting well-being.