The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Center on Children, Families and the Law is leading a new $15 million research project.
The goal is to strengthen the nation’s child welfare agency workforce to better support children.
Michelle Graef, research associate professor at the Center, says the team will be testing different strategies.
“So, what can improve agencies’ ability to attract and hire and retain staff,” Graef tells Nebraska Radio Network. “The reason that’s an important issue is that the turnover rates in many child welfare agencies are significantly higher than other organizations.”
She says a revolving door of workers strains the bond a family.
“There really isn’t a relationship,” Graef says. “Then the child’s safety or permanency or wellbeing could ultimately be affected.”
Researchers will examine state and tribal child welfare agencies in as many as ten sites that are facing workforce issues.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is funding the five year project, which will provide new data on a chronic problem and, research hope, solutions for it.
“This project is an effort to shine some light and attention on that and do some rigorous research to find what works to improve agency workforce challenges,” Graef says.
The multidisciplinary project includes three national child welfare consultants and researchers at the University of Colorado, Denver, University of Louisville, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:40]