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Report: PA Child Welfare Workforce Faces Low Pay, Turnover

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Monday, March 20, 2023   

A recent report on the child welfare workforce shortage looks at how worker turnover, recruitment, and retention are impacting children and families in the care system.

The Philadelphia Child Welfare Workforce Taskforce made recommendations to the City's human services department to improve it.

Samea Kim - Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs for the Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth, and Family Services - said they surveyed 281 workers in Philadelphia's child welfare system and found that a lack of funding was the number one issue.

"In our survey," said Kim, "when we asked participants what the top five factors are that would cause them to leave this field, over 80% of respondents noted that salary was probably the number one factor for them in sort of determining their future in this field."

Kim said they found the average salaries of foster care providers and community caseworkers was thousands of dollars less than a Philadelphia DHS employee, and added that 44% of child welfare workers had a second job to supplement their income.

Kim explained that they also studied the employee turnover rate in foster care.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the child welfare workforce struggled with recruitment and retention, and Kim said average turnover rates of 20% to 40% were not uncommon.

"When we looked at the Philadelphia community umbrella agencies, most recently, their average turnover rate was 45%, which is a pretty high departure from pre-pandemic levels," said Kim. "It's also really far from what is seen as a manageable or sort of good turnover rate of 10%."

Kim emphasized that the report found high turnover rates led to workload increases for remaining caseworkers, making them reconsider their future in these jobs.

Kim said the task force also recommended additional funding to reduce the workload for new caseworkers, and allow agencies to hire a bullpen of providers who can be on standby when the caseload spikes.



Disclosure: Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth & Family Services contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues, Education, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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