Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Hilda Shepeard


Walden University

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

This is to certify that the doctoral dissertation by

Santoria Lushell Williams

has been found to be complete and satisfactory in all respects,

and that any and all revisions required by

the review committee have been made.

Review Committee

Dr. Hilda Shepeard, Committee Chairperson,

Public Policy and Administration Faculty

Dr. Clarence Williamson, Committee Member,

Public Policy and Administration Faculty

Dr. Anne Hacker, University Reviewer,

Public Policy and Administration Faculty

Chief Academic Officer

Eric Riedel, Ph.D.

Walden University


In Fulton County, Georgia, the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) child-welfare workers (CWWs) voluntarily separate from the agency at a rate higher than among other similar agencies in the state of Georgia. The problems of retention among CWWs in Fulton County have caused a subsequent problem in terms of the continued provision of quality services to foster children and families. This phenomenological study used McGregor's conceptualization of theory X-Y as the foundation for the exploration of the experiences of former Fulton County DFCS CWW workers related to their reasons for voluntary separation. Data were acquired through interviews with 10 CWWs who voluntarily separated from their positions with Fulton County between the years of 2013 and 2015. These interview data were transcribed and then coded and analyzed using a modified van Kaam procedure. Findings revealed that workers experienced what they perceived as a lack of administrative empathy, devaluation of workers, disrespect, and burnout, as well as the differences in knowledge between child welfare workers and management about the depth of CWW job duties. Two additional themes emerged regarding longevity that included motivation from peers and children safety. The positive social change implications of this study include recommendations to DFCS to engage CWWs in organizational decision making regarding child welfare policy and to seek opportunities to enhance feelings of value and inclusiveness among CWWs in strategic planning and policy making.