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									LeadershipLens                                       Christine James-Brown

            hen I worked in Philadelphia,  their jobs as well as they would like.         by a boom economy, that has left public

W           I used to pass a hotel every
            day on my way to work.
Over the employee entrance, a sign
                                           According to a 2005 survey, the average
                                           caseload size for a child protective
                                           worker was 26.3, more than twice the
                                                                                          agencies throughout the region scram-
                                                                                          bling to hire and keep skilled child wel-
                                                                                          fare workers.” It seems that vulnerable
read: “Our most valuable assets pass       CWLA-recommended 12 active cases               children and families just can’t catch
through these doors every day.” In         per month. The average minimum                 a break. Rather than a boom economy,
the child welfare system it is certainly   salary for a caseworker was approxi-           we are experiencing a crisis economy
true that employees—particularly,          mately $32,000 in 2004; the median             that is also likely to have a negative
caseworkers— are a very valuable           income for a family of four in the U.S.        impact on having enough well-paid,
asset. Our common sense tells us this      was approximately $75,000. In a situa-         well-trained, well-supported caseworkers.
is true, and research supports it. The     tion where children need consistency in             As part of its advocacy agenda,
Child and Family Service Reviews           the relationship with their caseworker,        CWLA clearly has the responsibility to
have demonstrated that the more time       dangerous work environments, large             enhance the public policy environment
a caseworker spends with a child and       caseload sizes, low salaries, and other        in support of positive outcomes for vul-
family, the better the outcomes.           factors lead to high worker turnover           nerable children and families. But we
    Despite caseworkers’ role in help-     rates. This ultimately results in insuffi-     also have a responsibility to improve the
ing our most vulnerable children and       cient services for children and families.      image of the child welfare system and to
families, they are not fully appreciated.       The article by Julie Collins              increase the level of respect and recogni-
Kathleen Belanger’s article (“They Are     (“Addressing Secondary Traumatic               tion for its most important asset—the
All Our Children,” page 30) illustrates    Stress,” page 10) highlights the trauma        c
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