Date of Conferral





Human Services


Jeffrey Harlow


Caseworker turnover in child welfare agencies has been a problem for many years. The turnover negatively impacts the agency, and the staff left behind by their departing peers, and continuity of services provided to clients. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to explore parental experiences with child welfare staff turnover to determine how clients perceived that turnover impacted their child welfare case. The research questions for this study focused on (a) how clients perceived that child welfare turnover impacted their case and (b) how the turnover impacted their case plan and (c) recommendations for child welfare to enhance services. Conceptually, ecological and general systems theories provided the framework for understanding perceptions of child welfare clients’ experiences. Data were collected using semistructured questions administered to the 8 former child welfare clients in individual interviews. The participants were recruited through purposeful and snowball sampling. The selection criteria for participants were previous clients who had experienced the loss of their caseworker at least 3 times due to turnover. The collected data were transcribed verbatim from an audio recording. Codes were assigned to the data and reliability checks were conducted. The themes that emerged from analysis of the data included (a) effect of turnover on the outcome of the case, (b) loss that comes with turnover, (c) different perspectives, (d) frustration with notification of change, (e) case plan changes, and (f) advice for child welfare agencies. The knowledge gained from this study can help child welfare agencies learn how clients are affected by turnover and what families need from the child welfare agency when facing turnover. The findings of this study could potentially contribute to positive social change by providing guidance for practice and a greater opportunity to help families who experience staff turnover in child welfare agencies.

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