DCFS, Human Services: Turnover City?


Why is it that Child Protection workers have such a high turnover rate?

This article, written during a tide of turnovers in Texas, says, “With nearly 30 percent of Lubbock County’s 144 CPS workers quitting last fiscal year, CPS is tasked with training new investigators who will eventually determine if an allegation of abuse or neglect warrants removing a child from his or her guardian. The turnover rate also provides challenges for the remaining investigators who must take over the abandoned cases and quickly adapt to the specialized needs of each family.

“The families that we’re working with are no longer just (dealing with) substance abuse, or only have one singular issue that we’re having to focus on. We’re having to look at the domestic violence and then the substance abuse,” said Leslie Tutino, investigations supervisor for the Lubbock County CPS office. “There’s multiple facets that we’re having to assess for risk and safety so the investigators are out there trying to gather all of the information. … The demands of an investigator are very high.”

This article, written about the rate of employee movement in California’s urban areas, says, “Nearly a third of the Compton office’s social workers were on the job for less than two years.

The problems were also acute in areas of South Los Angeles and Palmdale where child welfare interventions are also often more complex and many workers anxiously await a transfer following what department staffers call their “year of duty.” The three offices also have some of the highest rates of children who die of abuse or neglect — a total of 17 between January 2008 and August 2010.

“High stress levels and distance from employees’ homes contribute to the high staff turnover rate,” the audit said.

Closer to home for us, in Chicago, this article states that, “The analysis also found that nearly 40 percent of DCFS investigators employed five years ago are no longer in those positions, a turnover rate higher than any other job in the agency.”

What it all boils down to is that DCFS and child protection workers have a high stress, high stakes job. If they make the critical decision to remove a child from their home, they are breaking up a family. If they leave a child in an unstable environment and something terrible happens, the worker is often blamed. There is more work than there is time to complete it and, due to the nature of strict confidentiality, workers receive very little support from friends and family when they run into situations they may struggle to deal with.



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