Child Welfare Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (QIC-WD)


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During the needs assessment process, the QIC-WD developed a theory of change in collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Through a series of steps and causal links, a theory of change provides a roadmap to address the root causes of an identified workforce problem and describes how and why changes are expected to lead to the desired outcomes. The needs assessment identified high worker turnover as a key challenge for DCFS, with the following key root causes:

  • the workload was unmanageable and there were too many tasks to be performed
  • supervisors and managers were working out of level (performing tasks not directly related to their job description) due to the high number of vacant staff positions and amount of work to be done
  • due to budget cutbacks, the agency had lost the clerical staff positions it had historically used to support field work, further compounding the workload for frontline staff.

The following assumptions were made during the formation of the theory of change:

  • People leave because they are overwhelmed
  • Reducing the workload will make the job manageable (if people stay in their level, their workload will be manageable)
  • The essential tasks of a child welfare specialist's work can be defined
  • People have the competency to function at their level (knowledge, skills, abilities, adequate training)
  • Redesigning the work will increase competency development opportunities (staff will have time to take advantage of existing or new training opportunities)
  • If workload is reduced, people will be less stressed and will then perform better on their job
  • A healthy organizational environment exists that will support the change

The theory of change was developed by the implementation team with the QIC-WD’s facilitation, and was informed by the root causes of turnover, the research literature on job redesign and the implementation team’s input. The resulting theory of change was used to guide the development of the job redesign intervention, and as a framework for the evaluation.

The attached image in the download file depicts the theory of change.