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					  A Study of Personal and Organizational
Factors Contributing to Employee Retention
 and Turnover in Child Welfare in Georgia


             Alberta J. Ellett, Ph. D.
              UGA School of Social Work


              Chad D. Ellett, Ph.D.
           CDE Research Associates, Inc.



          Presentation to Georgia DHR/DFCS
    Presentation Overview

   Introductions
   The study
   Study findings
   Recommendations
   Open discussion
    Turnover in Child Welfare

   National rates are high, 20% (APHSA)

   Georgia rate in 2000, 44% (DHR)
      As high as 100% in some counties

   Title IV-E Agency/University Partnerships
    to help improve retenton
     Problems Created by Turnover

   Interferes with continuity and quality
    of services to children and families
    and loss of federal dollars
   Lost human and financial investments
    in education, training, and expertise
   Weakens professional organizational
    culture and morale
   Places additional burden on remaining
    staff
    Problems Created by Turnover cont.

   High turnover breeds more
    turnover
   2 year lag time for new employees
    to dev. essential KSAs
   Delays in replacing staff send
    negative messages to the clients,
    courts, public and staff
     Burnout in Child Welfare

   First appears in literature in late ‘60s
   Literature presents mixed
    understandings
   Conceptual definitions seldom included
   Operationalized with MBI

   Ellett, A. & Crolley-Simic, J. (2003) Challenging
    conceptions of burnout in child welfare: A
    recent literature review with implications for
    preparation, practice, & future research
Burnout is a Distracter

   Puts focus on turnover rather than
    retention
   Places primary cause for turnover on
    the work context, instead of on the
    individual
   Appears after CW positions in the U.S.
    were de-professionalized
   A face saving explanation for leaving?
   Causal relationship with turnover
    questioned
    Better Research Questions

   What factors are related to turnover?

   What factors are related to retention?

   What Model(s) might lead to more
    useful explanations & predictions of
    staying and leaving?
     Retention: Gaps in Knowledge

   There is little known about personal
    and organizational factors related to
    employee retention in child welfare.
   There is little known about how to
    increase the holding power of public
    child welfare agencies for
    professional staff.
  General Purpose of the Study


The purpose of the study was to
explore linkages between, and to
identify factors contributing to,
child welfare staffs’ intentions to
remain employed or leave
employment in child welfare.
     Objectives of the Study

   To develop/adapt measures for the study
   To obtain initial validity and reliability
    estimates for these new and adapted
    measures;
   To explore statistical relationships between
    intentions to remain employed and the
    other study variables (measures and
    selected demographics); and
   To development recommendations from
    the findings for policy and practice.
    Measures in the Statewide Survey

   Intent to remain employed in child welfare
   Extensive demographic information
   Work morale
   Human caring (about clients & child welfare)
   Professional organizational culture
   Self- & group efficacy beliefs
   Self-efficacy expectations
   Job satisfaction
   Factors contributing to decisions to leave CW
   Factors Contributing to decision to remain in CW
     Survey (cont.)

   198 total survey items
   Surveys to all child welfare employees (N=2250)
   Survey respondents (n=1423, 63.2%)

   60 focus group interviews in all state regions
    (n=385, 85%; 1200 person hours)

   Largest known statewide study of retention
    and/or turnover in child welfare
Data Analyses

   Descriptive statistics for survey items &
    characteristics of the samples
   Refinement of measures
   Correlations to examine relationships between
    intent to remain and other variables
   Regressions of intent to remain employed on
    sets of other variables
   Discriminant function analyses using the intent
    to remain measure to compare extreme
    contrasting groups
   Comparisons between selected groups of
    interest (e.g. rural/urban, degree, IV-E)
Synthesis of Survey Findings

   Most measures demonstrate reasonable
    reliability, many strong reliability
   The most important predictor of intent
    to remain in CW was professional
    commitment of the human caring
    measure
   Most variables were statistically related,
    in predictable directions, to intents to
    remain
    Synthesis of Survey Findings (cont.)

   Regression results showed combinations of 5
    variables account for 54% of the variation among
    employees’ intentions to remain in child welfare
    [professional commitment, lack of job stress, job
    satisfaction (e.g. with salary/benefits, paperwork,
    promotional/career opportunities), professional
    support, and external relations]
   The most important variable that differentiates
    high and low intent to remain groups was
    professional commitment of the human caring
    measure
        Synthesis of Survey Findings (cont.)

   Items measuring professional commitment
       I genuinely enjoy my profession.
       I would continue to work in the field of social
        work even if I did not need the money.
       Most days I do not look forward to going to
        work.*
       If I could do it all over again, I would choose a
        profession other then social work.*
       I find little enthusiasm for working as a social
        worker.*
       I cannot imagine enjoying any profession as
        much as social work.
        Synthesis of Survey Findings (cont.)

   The most important variables differentiating
    extreme intent to remain groups for each
    measure for new employees (3 years or less)
    were:
       Work Morale: work values, promotions
       Human Caring: responsivity and receptivity
       Professional Organizational Culture: collegial
        sharing/support
Synthesis of Survey Findings (cont.)

   Self-Efficacy: effort/persistence
   Job Satisfaction: client responsibilities,
    co-worker/supervisor relations
   Leaving factors: Compensation/career
    concerns; job challenge/satisfaction
   Staying factors: Commitment/professional
    support
     Synthesis of Survey Findings (cont.)

   Those with social work degrees and IV-E
    were more inclined to remain employed in
    CW than those with other degrees
   Only 20% of CW staff have degrees in SW
    (10% have HS or GED)
   Participants were most negative in their
    views of work morale and job satisfaction,
    and most positive in their assessments of
    HC, SE, and relationships with co-workers
     Synthesis of Survey Findings (cont.)

   All groups identified compensation and
    career concerns as the most important
    factors contributing to their decisions to
    leave child welfare
   High % of employees intent to leave CW
    employment within 5 years (36.3% and of
    those, 45.6% to retirement)
   The demographics showed extreme
    differences in caseloads across workers
   80% of workers have caseloads that
    exceed CWLA standards
      Synthesis of Interview Findings:
      Turnover Factors

   The demographics showed extreme
    differences in caseloads across workers
   Few promotional opportunities
   80% of workers have caseloads that
    exceed CWLA standards
   In Georgia, most county office employees
    work 50-60 hours per week, many on call,
    which intrudes on personal life
   No overtime pay
     Synthesis of Interview Findings:
     Turnover Factors (cont.)
   Atmosphere of tension & fear related to legal
    liabilities
   Annual evaluation process is problematic
   Employees not valued by agency or public
   Inadequate client resources
   Inadequate resources for employees (work and
    safety)
   Problems with the courts (especially with
    SAAGS)
   Excessive paperwork (50-75% of work time)
     Synthesis of Interview Findings:
     Turnover Factors (cont.)

   Too many oversight groups (Court, CASA,
    Citizen Review Panel, and Child Advocate)
   Lack of sufficient mentoring and professional
    development
   New employees lack basic knowledge, skills,
    abilities, and dispositions for work in CW
   Overwhelmed by the complexity and gravity
    of the job
   Lack of interest in and commitment to public
    child welfare
    Synthesis of Interview Findings:
    Retention Factors

   Staff benefits
   Flex time permitted
   Retirement benefits
   Supportive administrators and supervisors
   Variety of work, and exciting and
    challenging work
   Important and meaningful work
    Synthesis of Interview Findings:
    Retention Factors (cont.)

   Pre-employment internships or IV-E
   Informal and formal on-the-job training
   Commitment to child welfare and care
    about clients
   Requisite knowledge, skills, abilities, and
    strong self-efficacy beliefs
   Flexible and adaptable in thinking and
    behavior
    Synthesis of Interview Findings:
    Retention Factors (cont.)


   Don’t take things personally
   Willing to listen and learn from others
   Sense of humor
   Self-reflective practitioners
   Find meaning in and value CW work,
    and can recognize their successes
        Recommendations for Policy
        and/or Practice

1.   State needs to fund DFCS child welfare to
     lower caseloads conforming to CWLA
     standards
2.   DHR/DFCS needs to develop and implement a
     career ladder with competitive salaries and
     professional qualifications
3.   State needs to expand existing IV-E university
     SW programs and increase #s of CW
     employees in MSW programs
4.   State needs to develop BSW and MSW
     programs with additional state universities
       Recommendations for Policy
       and/or Practice (cont.)

5.   DHR/DFCS needs to develop a plan for CW
     supervisors and administrators to obtain the
     MSW degree and participate in professional
     development activities
6.   DHR/DFCS needs to develop more specific
     policies for accepting child abuse and neglect
     referrals
7.   State needs to compensate staff for on call
     work
8.   State needs to replace SAAGS with an
     adequate number of attorneys hired by DFCS
       Recommendations for Policy
       and/or Practice (cont.)

9.    DFCS needs to improve communications
      with child welfare employees
10.   DFCS needs to include policy
      interpretation/application and procedures
      in new worker training
11.   DFCS needs to increase formal and
      informal recognition of CW staff
      accomplishments
12.   DFCS needs to develop an improved
      research-based selection process
       Recommendations for Policy
       and/or Practice (cont.)

13.   DFCS needs to target recruitment to BSW
      and MSW graduates
14.   DFCS needs to continue it’s retention
      advisory committee
15.   DHR/DFCS needs to develop a coordinated
      statewide foster parent recruitment effort
16.   DHR/DFCS needs to develop a computer
      information system to meet federal
      SACWIS requirements for all CW
      employees
      Recommendations for Policy
      and/or Practice (cont.)
17.   State needs to develop services for non-
      abused juvenile delinquents
18.   State needs to develop services for non-
      abused children in need of mental health
19.   DHR/DFCS needs to work with the Council
      of Juvenile Judges and the Court
      Improvement Project
20.   State needs to eliminate multiple layers of
      CW oversight
       Recommendations for Policy
       and/or Practice (cont.)

21.   DFCS needs to develop a professional
      growth system for employees based upon
      identified needs that includes
      accountability for learning
22.   DFCS needs to develop a
      mentoring/support system for all new
      employees
23.   DFCS needs to provide opportunities for
      new workers to work with cases from
      intake to closure
24.   DFCS needs to strengthen professional
      development of experienced staff
       Recommendations for Policy
       and/or Practice (cont.)

25.   DFCS needs to strengthen professional
      organization culture and supervisory/
      leadership capacities
26.   DHR/DFCS needs to educate other agencies
      about its responsibilities
27.   DHR/DFCS needs to implement a statewide
      PR campaign to inform policy makers and
      the public about the importance of CW in
      Georgia
       Recommendations for Policy
       and/or Practice (cont.)

28.   DHR/DFCS need to inform the media and
      policy makers about decades of under
      funding and barriers when staff are
      publicly criticized
29.   DHR/DFCS needs to identify Strategic
      Champions
30.   State needs to exempt DFCS CW from
      current PMF system and allow DFCS to
      develop a system relevant to CW work
31.   DFCS needs to strengthen worker safety
      training and resources
        Recommendations for Policy
        and/or Practice (cont.)

32.   State needs to purchase cell phones and
      service for staff who make home visits
33.   State needs to provide legal immunity from
      criminal and civil liability to DFCS CW
      employees performing their mandated
      duties and responsibilities
34.   DHR/DFCS needs to develop a clear policy
      for legal representation of staff when
      criminally charged or sued for doing their
      jobs
      Recommendations for Policy
      and/or Practice (cont.)
35.   DHR/DFCS needs to require that CW staff
      perform the SW duties that are currently
      contracted out once caseloads meet
      CWLA standards
36.   State needs to provide and maintain
      shared state autos for client
      transportation
37.   DFCS needs to provide either additional
      clerical support for staff or find ways to
      reduce paperwork
Summary

   Who cares about child welfare?
       Child welfare staff?
       Clients?
       The organization?
       The public?
       The courts?
       The media?
       Federal & state policy makers?
  Final Thoughts

The End!              Finí!




       That’s All Folks!

				
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