A longitudinal study of stress and satisfaction among child welfare workers [2018]

Stress and satisfaction have long been topics of research and interest in public child welfare, particularly in relation to their links with retention. Fewer studies have focused on specific facets of stress and satisfaction among public child welfare workers. In this sample of 160 retained specially-trained former students, sources of stress and satisfaction were examined three and five years after the conclusion of the students’ work obligation.

With regard to stress, paired t-tests revealed that while workload stress increased from Year 3 to Year 5, child-related stress went down. The same downward movement was also noted for the work–life flexibility aspect of job satisfaction from Years 3 to 5. Additionally, regression analyses indicated that higher workload stress at Year 3 was predictive of diminished satisfaction with client relationships.

The findings suggest that even among retained staff, workload stress can be caustic, diminishing job satisfaction with client relationships. Implications for public child welfare agencies, and the importance of going beyond retention as a final measure for worker success are explored.

Sandhya Rao Hermon, Rose Chahla
Journal of Social Work, Vol 19, Issue 2, 2019