Reducing Turnover is Not Enough: The Need for Proficient Organizational Cultures to Support Positive Youth Outcomes in Child Welfare.
Williams, Nathaniel J. Glisson, Charles.
Published: November 2013
Children and Youth Services Review
Vol. 35, No. 11 , p. 1871-1877
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Objective: High caseworker turnover has been identified as a factor in the poor outcomes of child welfare services. However, almost no empirical research has examined the relationship between caseworker turnover and youth outcomes in child welfare systems and there is an important knowledge gap regarding whether, and how, caseworker turnover relates to outcomes for youth. We hypothesized that the effects of caseworker turnover are moderated by organizational culture such that reduced caseworker turnover is only associated with improved youth outcomes in organizations with proficient cultures. Methods: The study applied hierarchical linear models (HLM) analysis to the second National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW II) with a U.S. nationwide sample of 2346 youth aged 1.5- to 18-years-old and 1544 caseworkers in 73 child welfare agencies. Proficient organizational culture was measured by caseworkers' responses to the Organizational Social Context (OSC) measure; staff turnover was reported by the agencies' directors; and youth outcomes were measured as total problems in psychosocial functioning with the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) completed by the youths' caregivers at intake and at 18-month follow-up. Results: The association between caseworker turnover and youth outcomes was moderated by organizational culture. Youth outcomes were improved with lower staff turnover in proficient organizational cultures and the best outcomes occurred in organizations with low turnover and high proficiency. Conclusions: To be successful, efforts to improve child welfare services by lowering staff turnover must also create proficient cultures that expect caseworkers to be competent and responsive to the needs of the youth and families they serve. (Author abstract)
worker turnover; outcomes; child welfare agencies; foster children; organizational change