Foster Care Month: A Focus on Workers
Perhaps a few times a month a story of child abuse pops up in your newsfeed. You might decide to skim the article, which covers the basics of the story and focuses on the charges, but after that, what happens? It’s easy to mark a “mad” reaction on social media and then scroll on to the next post of your friend’s wedding shower, a funny meme or an ad.
Imagine if your newsfeed was post after post of children you had met who had experienced varying levels of abuse or neglect. Not only do you know the faces of these children, but you also know their parents. You know their story, their mental health history, and how they had grown up in foster care. You also know the foster family caring for the children. Their home is constantly full and you worry about their ability to maintain the stress and demands of caring for children with such high needs.
Hour after hour your day is filled with meetings with these children and their families, with court hearings, team meetings, and emergency phone calls. You scramble to find resources, to look for answers, to make sure everything works out. Regardless, you can never do enough. At the end of the day your voicemail is still full and your inbox is overwhelmed.
One after another, caseworkers file out the door. It would be much easier and much more lucrative to sell insurance, they decide. Their burning desire to change the world fizzles out, and they move on. According to the Casey Family Programs, a leading researcher in the field of foster care, turnover rates in child welfare are 20-40%. This has an enormous impact on the agency and the children being served. High turn over rates cost agencies time and money in recovering the position.
A well-trained, highly skilled, well-resourced and appropriately deployed workforce is foundational to a child welfare agency’s ability to achieve best outcomes for the vulnerable children, youth and families it serves.*
Children suffer due to the lack of consistency. The relationship, information, and history disappear with each new worker. The more workers a child has involved, the less desirable the outcomes.
We share this information so that you understand the need for support. Workers in child welfare truly care for the children and families they serve. They want to see them thrive. But they need encouragement, support, and resources.
How can you help?
- Advocate for higher wages for state workers at the state level
- Help meet CarePortal requests
- Donate to nonprofit child welfare agencies to support overhead expenses, training, and support to staff
- Write workers a note of encouragement (dropping in a $5 gift card wouldn’t hurt!)
- Sponsor a staff meal for DHHS workers (contact them to arrange this)
- Donate to scholarship funds for students entering child welfare