A Study of Personal and Organizational Factors Contributing to Employee Retention and Turnover in Child Welfare in Georgia
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1. 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
2. Presentation Overview Introductions
3. 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
4. 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
5. 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
Problems Created by Turnover cont.
6. 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
7. 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
8. 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?
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. Measures in the Statewide Survey Intent to remain employed in child welfare
Extensive demographic information
Human caring (about clients & child welfare)
Professional organizational culture
Self- & group efficacy beliefs
Factors contributing to decisions to leave CW
Factors Contributing to decision to remain in CW
13. 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
14. 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)
15. 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
16. 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
17. 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.
18. 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
19. Synthesis of Survey Findings (cont.) Self-Efficacy: effort/persistence
Job Satisfaction: client responsibilities,
Leaving factors: Compensation/career concerns; job challenge/satisfaction
Staying factors: Commitment/professional support
20. 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
21. 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
22. 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
23. 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)
24. 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
25. Synthesis of Interview Findings: Retention Factors Staff benefits
Flex time permitted
Supportive administrators and supervisors
Variety of work, and exciting and challenging work
Important and meaningful work
26. 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
27. Synthesis of Interview Findings: Retention Factors (cont.) Don’t take things personally
Willing to listen and learn from others
Sense of humor
Find meaning in and value CW work, and can recognize their successes
28. Recommendations for Policy and/or Practice State needs to fund DFCS child welfare to lower caseloads conforming to CWLA standards
DHR/DFCS needs to develop and implement a career ladder with competitive salaries and professional qualifications
State needs to expand existing IV-E university SW programs and increase #s of CW employees in MSW programs
State needs to develop BSW and MSW programs with additional state universities
29. Recommendations for Policy and/or Practice (cont.) DHR/DFCS needs to develop a plan for CW supervisors and administrators to obtain the MSW degree and participate in professional development activities
DHR/DFCS needs to develop more specific policies for accepting child abuse and neglect referrals
State needs to compensate staff for on call work
State needs to replace SAAGS with an adequate number of attorneys hired by DFCS
30. Recommendations for Policy and/or Practice (cont.) DFCS needs to improve communications with child welfare employees
DFCS needs to include policy interpretation/application and procedures in new worker training
DFCS needs to increase formal and informal recognition of CW staff accomplishments
DFCS needs to develop an improved research-based selection process
31. Recommendations for Policy and/or Practice (cont.) DFCS needs to target recruitment to BSW and MSW graduates
DFCS needs to continue it’s retention advisory committee
DHR/DFCS needs to develop a coordinated statewide foster parent recruitment effort
DHR/DFCS needs to develop a computer information system to meet federal SACWIS requirements for all CW employees
32. Recommendations for Policy and/or Practice (cont.) State needs to develop services for non-abused juvenile delinquents
State needs to develop services for non-abused children in need of mental health
DHR/DFCS needs to work with the Council of Juvenile Judges and the Court Improvement Project
State needs to eliminate multiple layers of CW oversight
33. Recommendations for Policy and/or Practice (cont.)
DFCS needs to develop a professional growth system for employees based upon identified needs that includes accountability for learning
DFCS needs to develop a mentoring/support system for all new employees
DFCS needs to provide opportunities for new workers to work with cases from intake to closure
DFCS needs to strengthen professional development of experienced staff
34. Recommendations for Policy and/or Practice (cont.) DFCS needs to strengthen professional organization culture and supervisory/ leadership capacities
DHR/DFCS needs to educate other agencies about its responsibilities
DHR/DFCS needs to implement a statewide PR campaign to inform policy makers and the public about the importance of CW in Georgia
35. Recommendations for Policy and/or Practice (cont.) DHR/DFCS need to inform the media and policy makers about decades of under funding and barriers when staff are publicly criticized
DHR/DFCS needs to identify Strategic Champions
State needs to exempt DFCS CW from current PMF system and allow DFCS to develop a system relevant to CW work
DFCS needs to strengthen worker safety training and resources
36. Recommendations for Policy and/or Practice (cont.) State needs to purchase cell phones and service for staff who make home visits
State needs to provide legal immunity from criminal and civil liability to DFCS CW employees performing their mandated duties and responsibilities
DHR/DFCS needs to develop a clear policy for legal representation of staff when criminally charged or sued for doing their jobs
37. Recommendations for Policy and/or Practice (cont.) DHR/DFCS needs to require that CW staff perform the SW duties that are currently contracted out once caseloads meet CWLA standards
State needs to provide and maintain shared state autos for client transportation
DFCS needs to provide either additional clerical support for staff or find ways to reduce paperwork
38. Summary Who cares about child welfare?
Child welfare staff?
Federal & state policy makers?
39. Final Thoughts The End!