This study focuses on the field test of a design team intervention in two rural and one urban site experiencing high workforce turnover. Hypothesis 1: Job satisfaction is significantly improved among public child welfare workers participating in the Design Team intervention. Hypothesis 2: Job satisfaction is significantly related to lower turnover in public child welfare workers participating in the Design Team intervention. The Design Team is an externally facilitated intervention in which team members consist of caseworkers and supervisors representing all services provided by the agency. The facilitator uses a formal logic model and team building expertise to guide the team. A pre-post design and structural equation modeling findings indicate a positive impact to overall worker job satisfaction and satisfaction with the nature of their work, and has strong potential to reduce turnover.

Key Take Away Points

  • Design team is an externally facilitated intervention consisting of team member from across the agency
  • Design team uses a logic model, solution focused approach to address specific issues and enhance the quality of the workforce
  • Worker's job satisfaction in this rural and urban sample significantly improved
  • The design team approach has strong potential to reduce worker turnover

Author Biography

Nancy Claiborne, Ph.D., Associate Professor at University at Albany, State University of New York who teaches in and chairs the MACRO concentration. She is a management specialist with 10 years of funded experience working directly with child welfare agencies on systems change.

Dr. Charles Auerbach, Ph.D., Professor of Social Work at Yeshiva University, is an expert in research methodology and quantitative data analysis.

Catherine Lawrence, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the University at Albany School of Social Welfare. Her research focuses on the implementation of public human services in the United States, particularly for women, children and families. She and is the Deputy Director of the Social Work Education Consortium.

Dr. Brenda McGowan, Ph.D., Professor at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service and is the James R. Dumpson Chair in Child Welfare Studies. She has over 30 years of experience as a practitioner, researcher and educator in the child and family services arena and has and national reputation in the field of child welfare. Dr. McGowan was previously at the Columbia University for 30 years as the Ruth Harris Ottman Professor at School of Social Work.

Hal A. Lawson, Ph.D., Professor of Social Welfare and Professor of Education, University at Albany, State University of New York. His interdisciplinary research and teaching focus on vulnerable children, youth, families and communities, and the public sector service systems which must adapt and change in order to meet their needs.

Mary McCarthy, Ph.D., LMSW is Director of the Social Work Education Consortium and Co-Principal Investigator for the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute, a service of the Children's Bureau.

Jessica Strolin-Goltzman, Ph.D., Associate Professor at the University of Vermont. She conducts trans-disciplinary evaluation and implementation research in child welfare, mental health and school settings. Her research interests include organizational change and the implementation of evidence informed social and emotional interventions for children, youth and families.

James C. Caringi, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Social Work and MSW Program Director at the University of Montana. His interests include primary and secondary trauma as related to child abuse and neglect.


Children’s Bureau Competitive Grant Priority Area: 2003C.3 (Child Welfare Recruitment-Retention Training)