Employee Retention

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Professional work in public child welfare is one of the most difficult, psychologically demanding, publicly scrutinized, but important jobs in the service of children and families in need in Georgia. Professionals in public child welfare (CW) are charged not only with providing critical and needed services to children and families, but also with assisting in the process of making life altering decisions for involuntary clients (e.g., removing children from their families, foster care placement, termination of parental rights, adoption). The difficulties in working in public CW are exacerbated by occasional, high profile abuse and neglect cases that receive attention from the mass media (e.g., serious injuries, or child fatalities) combined with a broad misunderstanding by the general public about what the proper roles, functions, and limitations are of those who work in public child welfare
Researchers and child welfare leaders are beginning to recognize that the workforce may be the most important variable over which agencies and policy makers may have some control. The agency has little control over the nature of clients served, and even less control over the external environment in which the agency is embedded. A key workforce issue in Georgia is the high CW employee turnover rate. The high turnover rate in Georgia is an indicator of a complex constellation of personal and organizational factors that contribute to child welfare employees’ lack of persistence in CW, and their decisions to leave public child welfare for other positions.

The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) commissioned a study in
2002-2003 to obtain information and insight about the issues relevant to retention and turnover of child welfare staff. In order to accomplish the vision of Safe Futures for Georgia’s children, a key component of success is the stability of the child welfare workforce. Therefore, this study was



References: Cyphers, G. (2001). Report from the child welfare workforce survey: State and county data and findings. Washington, DC: American Public Human Services Association. Ellett, A.J., Ellett, C.D., & Rugutt, J.K. (March, 2003). A study of personal and organizational factors contributing to employee retention and turnover in child welfare in Georgia. Athens, Georgia: School of Social Work, University of Georgia. General Accounting Office, (2003). Child welfare: HHS could play a greater role in helping child welfare agencies recruit and retain staff. Washington, DC: Author.

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