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October 16, 2008 permalink

A report from Texas says that the state loses a third of its child protection workers every six months. That matches reports from other places, including Canada. But in spite of the high attrition, many caseworkers have ten or twenty years tenure. Since normal people resign quickly after learning what their job really is, the agencies just go on hiring replacements. Eventually they find that special person who can take children from parents and feel good about it.



Posted on Thu, Oct. 16, 2008

Caseworker turnover still high, report says

Nearly a third of the caseworkers at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services left their jobs in the first six months of fiscal 2008, according to a state report.

Overall, from 2005 through 2007, the department failed to keep enough caseworkers on the job, according to the report by the Legislative Budget Board. Reasons given included workload, focus on the department during the initial stages of restructuring Child Protective Services in 2005 and media attention.

Turnover in fiscal 2008 so far has been 30.6 percent, above the 27.8 percent target rate. That’s still better than last year, when 34.1 percent of caseworkers left the job. — Darren Barbee

Source: Ft Worth Star-Telegram

Addendum: For skeptics, here is another story from North Carolina on the same theme.



The Durham News, Modified: Oct 11, 2008 06:43 AM

Agency considers bonuses to curb turnover

Samiha Khanna, Staff Writer

Desperate to keep burned-out workers on the job, Durham's social services department soon could offer some employees $500 bonuses for staying put through the end of the fiscal year.

The county department has experienced drastic turnover in the past two years, losing 60 percent of the workers in two of its divisions -- one that handles child welfare issues, such as foster care, and the other, which handles income maintenance programs, such as food stamps.

The bonuses, which could take several more weeks to finalize, would go to only those divisions that have been affected by high turnover, said Sammy Haithcock, director of social services. This would include fewer than 200 of nearly 450 workers now at DSS, and the employee would have to have worked from July 1, 2008, through next June.

The money would be utilized in a two-part effort to help stop the loss of workers and their training. Haithcock is also trying to give social workers, who frequently respond to calls after hours and on weekends, compensatory time off, since they are not paid overtime.

"We're trying to shore up morale to an extent," Haithcock said. "It's a difficult time."

During this recent economic downturn, claims at the department of social services continue to grow as the staff shrinks. Thus, workers become overburdened.

"I think that workers compromise sometimes on all that needs to be done," said Dewey Williams, a former social worker who left DSS over the summer to pursue a divinity degree. He worked in child protective services for a year and a half.

It's not just the worker who suffers, Williams said, but the people they're trying to help.

"For us, the biggest problem is that children could be at greater risk because someone made a report and we couldn't investigate in a timely manner," he said.

The proposal to give workers extra money for staying actually originated earlier this year, when Haithcock pitched the idea to county commissioners, asking for nearly $100,000 for the program. He said it would end up saving the county money because employees cost thousands of dollars to train. But commissioners didn't give Haithcock the extra money.

Now Haithcock thinks he can pool the money from his existing budget, using some of the lapsed salaries from vacant positions. Working within his department's budget, he can implement the program without the approval of county commissioners.

A study of county exit interviews conducted earlier this year estimated the annual cost of employee turnover at nearly $3 million.

While only a quarter of the 303 respondents in the study listed salary as one of their reasons for leaving, more than half said their new job paid more than their job with the county. More than 100 of the respondents were from DSS.

County Manager Mike Ruffin cited the study in May, when Haithcock initially proposed the idea of bonuses. He said he did not think bonuses were a solution, since so few employees cited it as a reason for leaving.

Since Haithcock's new proposal is not yet finalized, Ruffin has not yet seen it and declined to comment on its details.

County Commissioner Michael D. Page said he supports the idea, and that if employees don't commit to stay for a year, they won't receive their bonuses.

"We can't be sure that it's going to work," said Page, who serves on the county's social services board. "The staff work long, difficult hours to solve the problems of our clients. It's not as simple as other positions might be. You can expect people not wanting to go the extra mile in that regard."

Source: The Durham News

social worker relaxing