Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Anne Hacker


Child welfare leaders reflect their organizations' mission and vision and are entrusted to provide support to employees, who in turn provide services to one of the most vulnerable populations, children. Little, however is known about how leaders perceive their roles and responsibilities in terms of providing sufficient supervisory and guidance to child welfare workers in order to support organizational goals. Guided by Houses' path-goal theory, this phenomenological study examined the perceptions of child welfare leaders related to leadership behaviors, strategies to improve administration, work performance, communication, and fostering an inclusive work environment. A sample of 16 participants working as administrators, county directors, and supervisors in the nonprofit sector of a southeastern state completed semi structured open-ended surveys using Survey Gizmo. Data were analyzed via Moustaka's modified vanKaam method. Findings from this study indicated that participants perceived positive experiences with a supportive leadership style that allowed for more alignment to the workgroup by increasing job sharing that created autonomy and accountability. Factors such as coaching to better manage caseloads were believed to improve employee performance and satisfaction. Effective leaders removed barriers that prevented upward mobility, and provided sustainable work practices. The results of this study may impact social change by raising awareness among organizational leaders to recognize the value of employees and provide an inclusive and supportive workplace environment.