New Workforce Study Reveals More Than Clues to Retention

Data Also Leads to Customized Recommendations for Institutional Change in Participating Counties

CalSWEC is now taking a more holistic approach to studying  the Child Welfare Services (CWS) workforce—a departure from its past practice of surveying the workforce using Administrative and Individual Surveys with a focus on educational and training needs and understanding agency turnover rates.

RELATED: Read about the past Workforce Studies

CalSWEC’s Ecological Model for Workforce Development enables the a fuller picture to emerge of the CWS workforce by analyzing data at key points within the context of University Variables and Workplace Variables, according to CalSWEC Research and Evaluation Director Sandhya Rao Hermón, developer of the model.  

RELATED: Read more about the Ecological Model

“We are diving deeper to understand the complex relationships between worker retention and worker variables, training, agency/workplace factors, and outcomes at the case level,” she explains. To gather data, she and staff, including Data Management Specialist Susan Jacquet and Workforce Development Coordinator Donna Thoreson, have been visiting in person the counties that have expressed interest in participating in the study.

Impact on Workforce, Counties

The focus is to tell each county’s story with the data gathered from its workforce to help management understand the workforce and plan strategically to improve, explains Dr. Rao Hermón. She shares the customized findings with that county and sends aggregate data to the Children’s Committee of the County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA) of California.

The data is timely and so is the feedback. For CWS staff, it is an opportunity to be heard and to describe what is going on with them and what they want, she says. Additionally, management is given “actionable recommendations for institutional changes.” At the request of counties, she also provides follow-up technical support.

Long-Term Goals

Dr. Rao Hermón says ideally she would like to survey at least half the state’s 58 counties, with a good representation of counties of all sizes. To date, nine counties have voluntarily participated in the data-gathering process. In the first group were Contra Costa, Madera, Napa, Orange, and Ventura counties. They were followed by Siskiyou and Yolo Counties. The latest to volunteer, in March, are Glenn and Lassen.

The goal is to complete all the surveys this year. Once the surveys are completed and  the findings shared with the counties and the CWDA’s Children’s Committee, Dr. Rao Hermón envisions pursing new directions for further research and publication, as well as additional sources of funding. 

Survey Details

Survey factors cover Personal Efficacy; Adaptability; Ability to Influence; Work Stress; Burnout; Job Satisfaction; Commitment to Child Welfare; Commitment to Agency; Satisfaction with Supervisor; Adequacy of Staffing; Adequacy of Training; Ability to Grow at Agency; Agency Mission; and Cohesion at Agency

The overall findings that each county receives cover:

  • Workers’ Perceptions of Personal Attributes
  • Worker Perceptions of the Agency
  • Reasons to Leave
  • Things the Agency Could Do
  • Perceptions of the Unit
  • Changes That Could Be Made at the Unit Level
  • Perceptions of Education and Training
  • Differences between Non- an Former IV-E Stipend Holders
  • Supervisor Perceptions on Various Measures

For Information or to participate

If your county is interested in participating in the survey, please contact  Research  and Evaluation Director Sandhya Rao Hermón,