Academic journal article Child Welfare

Factors Affecting Perceptions of Self-Value among Employees of Child Welfare Agencies

Academic journal article Child Welfare

Factors Affecting Perceptions of Self-Value among Employees of Child Welfare Agencies

Article excerpt

While the subject of previous research, less effort has been made in recent years to assess the conditions of the child protective services field that influence the motivation and well-being of those workers who provide these critically important services. It appears that longstanding challenges and frustrations encountered by child protective services workers in past years, such as high caseloads, poor training, and inadequate supervisory support, persist (Coenen, 2008; Flahive, 2015; Government of the District of Columbia, Office of the Inspector General, 2011; January 14; Sunset Advisory Commission, 2014; Priddy, 2015, September 23; Sacramento County Grand Jury, 2009). These concerns continue to drive low levels of employee morale, resulting in staggering levels of employee turnover-which in turn compromise child safety and welfare efforts in the communities these child welfare organizations serve.

For example, according to the Texas State Auditor's Office (SAO) (2015), in fiscal year 2014, health and human services organizations experienced the highest levels of employee turnover in Texas state government. Of the job classifications within these organizations, child protective services specialists experienced a 24.6% turnover rate. This resulted in the loss of 1,427 child protective services specialists throughout the state in a single year. Based on information from the employee exit surveys collected in fiscal year 2014, among the top reasons given by employees for leaving employment with their agencies were poor working conditions and issues with a supervisor. These findings are once again reflected in the most recent turnover report published by the Texas State Auditor's Office (2016) that continues to show a very high level of turnover (24.8%) among child protective services workers.

Although not mentioned in the 2016 Texas State Auditor's report, this continued high turnover rate was experienced in spite of a legislative mandate for a human resource management plan as elaborated in the Texas General Appropriations Act for the 2014-2015 biennium. The mandate requires Child Protective Services (CPS) to develop a plan to improve employee morale and retention. The Texas legislature relates its intention to evaluate this plan based on a decrease in turnover among agency staff, "specifically by the reduction in the turnover rates for caseworkers" (Legislative Budget Board, 2013, p. II-40). In response to this mandate, a comprehensive review of the Department of Family and Protective Service's Child Protective Services division was conducted by The Stephen Group (2014), which culminated in a number of findings and wide-ranging operational recommendations. These included implementing improved training for supervisors and managers, promoting teamwork, and holding regional directors accountable for employee turnover in their regions. In an October 2014 presentation, CPS administration committed to making progress on several performance fronts by December 31,2014, including the reduction of employee turnover. To date, there has been no improvement in turnover among CPS employees in Texas.

In the United States, there is a lengthy history of legislative concerns regarding employee turnover in CPS organizations. For example, in 2003, the State of Arizona Auditor General, in response to a request from the state legislature and while auditing the Division of Children, Youth and Families' Office of Child Protective Services, found a need to improve the adequacy of supervisor training. The audit uncovered that the high level of employee turnover was due in part to high caseloads, high stress, and poor supervisor support.

In an inspection report, the Government of the District of Columbia, Office of the Inspector General (2011) found that low morale contributed to turnover among social workers. This low morale was associated with high levels of stress, a lack of quality supervision, and a sense that workers do not feel valued by the agency. …

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