High Caseworker Turnover Negatively Affecting Children in Foster Care

Working in child welfare can be a stressful job, with long hours and high family caseloads, which is complicated by frequent turnover.

Meghan Rivard December 16, 2017
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Ideally, caseworkers in the child welfare system build relationships and bond with their clients naturally as they work together consistently over a period of time. But in Lincoln, Nebraska, because of high caseworker turnover, these relationships are being challenged. In a local news article, a recent report was released that showed that “half of juveniles in out-of-home care in Nebraska had three or more caseworker changes.”

For the caseworkers, working in child welfare can be stressful, with long hours and high family caseloads, which is complicated by the juggling that occurs with high turnover. But the turnover also has a negative effect on the children and families they are trying to serve. Caseworker turnover can cause questions in paperwork, documentation, and communication with the children and family.

Fortunately, the human services department in Lincoln is partnering with outside organizations for answers. They are evaluating why there is such a high turnover rate among caseworkers and what might be done to increase employee retention.

Having personally worked in child welfare as a caseworker, I can relate to these concerns. These workers are the voice for these children and families. Without stability and a constant link to resources for the family, the children and family will have a harder time succeeding. As mentioned, relationships between caseworkers and the children and families are vital. The children need to be able to trust that their worker is there for them; having three or more caseworker changes makes it nearly impossible to build that type of trust.

The study suggested some fixes for the agency, according to the news article, including, “hire more caseworkers and supervisors, ensure caseload standards compliance, and develop support, training and mentoring for caseworkers.”

Unfortunately, the concern is growing, not diminishing. The report indicated the number of youth in foster is increasing which necessitates a timely and critical remedy to the high worker turnover rate.

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Meghan Rivard

Meghan is an adoptive mother and a big advocate of adoption and foster care. She resides in Indiana with her husband, their one-year-old daughter who is the center of their lives, and their dog Max. She has a Bachelor's and Master’s Degree in Social Work. Meghan stays at home with her daughter but is so happy she found this outlet to share her personal adoption story and educate about adoption!

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