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Child Welfare Workplace: The State Of The Workforce And Strategies To Improve Retention

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Study Purpose and Literature Review

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the child welfare system and let their audience become aware of how many social workers are coming in and out of the welfare system. Due to the severity of their caseload; navigation through multiple agencies such as law enforcement and school systems; and the medical field (Scannapieco et al. 2007), it was suggested that the social workers are too overwhelmed and suspected to be the cause of such high turnover rates within the child welfare system. More so, the authors specifically focus on how that state not only does not meet the federal child welfare requirements, that there are not enough people in the workforce to supply such high demands. It is addressed that previous studies that involve this topic, are present but they have multiple focuses and overall use a different approach. By looking at predictors for retention, turnover and job satisfaction, Scannapieco and Connell-Carrick, discovered a positive correlation between supervisor/social worker and social worker/social worker relationships that led the employees to want to stay employed with the child welfare system (Scannapieco et al. 2007).

Theoretical Framework

In the Introduction to research book, theory is defined “a set of interrelated constructs, definitions, and propositions that present a systematic view of phenomena by specifying relations among variables, with the purpose of explaining or predicting phenomena.” (Depoy & Gitlin, 2015, pg. 85). Though the authors of this article, Scannapieco & Connell-Carrick, did not lay out a theoretical theory in their study design, it can be assumed by relating turnover and retention rates to the social exchange theory. Because the social exchange theory focuses on interaction between people to improve overall experience, it makes sense that the authors would use that theory to provide a backbone to their research.

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Study Design, Research Question, and Methods

The study design used by Scannapieco and Connell-Carrick is a type of correlational design that can be used to examine phenomena as they naturally occur and to discern the simple relationship between two or more variables or it can be more complex by predicting scores on one or more variables from knowledge (Depoy & Gitlin, 2015). In the article, Scannapieco and Connell-Carrick define the term CPS caseworker as someone whom broadly works in all areas of child welfare, risk assessment investigations, foster care, adoption, family preservation and substitution care: they also define employees as those who are currently employed at CPS and former employees as those who are not currently employed at CPS. (2007)

The method used by the researchers to conduct this study seemed simple. After completion of the training program at the Protective Services Institute of Texas that allows the CPS employees to be hired, 1100 surveys were sent out and they were followed up with once directly after the completion and once after they had spent three months on the job. The researchers found that multiple employees had left CPS and the began comparing the employees that stayed with CPS and the ones that did not, the researchers asked the participants questions that dealt with salary, commitment, and miscellaneous issues (Scannapieco & Connell-Carrick, 2007). Before CPS caseworkers can get their cases, they must complete a basic skills development (BSD) course which lasts six weeks. Once they complete the BSD training course, employees were asked to fill out another set of surveys seeking the affiliation to training satisfaction and job placement (Scannapieco & Connell-Carrick, 2007). Two post-graduation surveys were sent to caseworkers and their supervisors. These surveys were sent out six months from the time they caseworks were hired and one after being hired for 18 months. On top of the post- grad surveys, the employees were also required to take an exit exam after the completion of the BSD program.

Sampling, Measures and Data Collection

When looking at employee characteristics, the authors found that most employees were white females who had degrees in social work or criminal justice (Scannapieco & Connell-Carrick, 2007). Scannapieco and Connell-Carrick’s sample size consisted of N= 1,283 employees and N= 598 former employees (2007). After looking at the employee and former employee respondent chart, the authors noted that 184 employees were male, while 1096 were female. On the other hand, 121 of the former employees were male while 477 were female. Most races were listed as white at 600 employees and 297 former employees; black with 347 employees and 155 former employees; and lastly, Hispanic with 293 employees and 116 former employees. This table also points out many social workers have at least a bachelor’s degree. When comparing results from the exit exam, the researchers found that both employees and former employees had similar scores in almost all aspects of their tests. After looking over the surveys that were turned in by employees, researchers discovered that most employees reported to be happy with their employment due to their training and relationship with their supervisor. On the other hand, former employees reported similar satisfaction with training but a significant reason for them terminating their employment stemmed from a lack of trust and relationship with their supervisor. This correlation can lead to more studies being done that directly look at supervisor/caseworker relationship in relation to job satisfaction, retention, and turnover rates.

Reliability, Validity and Data Analysis

When looking at research, it is important for it to be reliable and valid. Depoy and Gitlin suggests that an article is reliable when there is stability in their research design (2015). Regarding the study conducted by Scannapieco and Connell-Carrick, they laid out their study in such a way that it could be replicated in future research if necessary. Validity is referred to how well your study answers the research questions and your findings are accurate or reflect the purpose of the study (Depoy & Gitlin, 2015). There are four different ways validity can be reflected in your study, internally, externally, statistically conducted validity and construct validity. Furthermore, External validity refers to the capacity to generalize findings and develop inferences from the sample to the study population stipulated in the research question (Depoy & Gitlin, 2015). Generalization is important to research because it makes it easier to apply the scenario to the entire population. For example, in this article, they look at predictors for job satisfaction, retention and turn-over rates in the child welfare system. Scannapieco and Connell-Carrick compared both employees and former employees to make their research important to an entire population specifically regarding those who are in the field, or those who are interested in the field of social work. However, there are potential threats to validity that can weaken the study. Specifically, Scannapieco and Connell-Carrick, discuss that they could not report on their second post-graduate survey due to a lack of sample size. Lack of sample size does affect validity because it makes the research less generalizable.

Overall, this article seemed to provide information that is useful to reducing the amount of turnover and retention in the Child welfare system, as well as, providing a correlational relationship between job satisfaction and the relationship between supervisors and caseworkers.

References

  1. Coughlan, M., Cronin, P., & Ryan, F. (2007). Step-by-step guide to critiquing research. Part 1: quantitative research. British Journal of Nursing, 16(11), 658-663 6p.
  2. DePoy, E., & Gitlin, L.N. (2015). Introduction to research: Understanding and applying multiple strategies (5th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.
  3. Scannapieco, M., & Connell-Carrick, K. (2007). Child Welfare Workplace: The State of the Workforce and Strategies to Improve Retention. Child Welfare, 86(6), 31–52. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.ezp.twu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=33294219&site=ehost-live

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