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


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The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, Child Welfare Division (CWD), in partnership with the Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (QIC-WD) conducted a needs assessment of their child welfare system. The needs assessment indicated high caseloads and administrative tasks were barriers to caseworkers’ ability to support families, engage clients, determine root causes of maltreatment, and implement timely services. Furthermore, surveys conducted with caseworkers revealed that they perceived their jobs as highly complex - requiring a wide range of tasks, a variety of specialized skills, and a high degree of information processing. These findings resulted in CWD and the QIC-WD designing and implementing a frontline worker job redesign intervention. The intervention was tested in three parishes, contrasting workforce and practice outcomes to those of a comparison group of parishes. This blog post provides a high-level overview of the intervention and early results based on an on-going study by the QIC-WD. CWD and the QIC-WD conducted job analyses and process mapping to determine which tasks needed to be retained by child welfare caseworkers and which could be assigned to the newly created professional position, Child Welfare Team Specialist (CWTS). Units within the implementation parishes were restructured. Child Protective Services and Family Services programs were combined to form Prevention Teams; and pairs of foster care caseworkers shared a caseload with one person focused on the care and needs of the child and one person focused on the assisting parents to form a Permanency Team. Both units are supported by a CWTS who works with the child welfare caseworker performing duties/tasks categorized as administrative. The first eight redesigned teams rolled out in June 2019, and additional teams rolled out in November 2019 and February 2020. (This video highlights the experience of some of the team members who participated in the intervention.) The redesign tailors the array of tasks performed to each caseworker's role, making workloads more manageable, reducing stress, and it is expected to improve retention. Improved retention is expected to enhance the quality of services to children and families, leading to better child and family outcomes. The QIC-WD evaluation team is using multiple methods to assess impacts of the intervention including focus groups, surveys of caseworker perceptions of the job and organizational environment, case reviews, and administrative data. Time studies were conducted to assess model fidelity and track changes in the proportion of time spent on clinical versus administrative duties. Survey and focus group feedback, case reviews, and analyses of administrative management reports assess practice changes and differences in staff perceptions of key outcomes such as work stress. Some preliminary results are as follows: • Focus group participants have reported that the addition of the CWTS has helped them to be more available to families and timely in completing job tasks. • Reported practice changes include families receiving service referrals more quickly, fewer removals of children, and fewer backlogged cases. • Time studies showed decreases in time caseworkers in the experimental region spent on administrative tasks and increases in time spent on clinical work with children and families, and that these changes were maintained with the move to virtual work in response to Covid-19. • Preliminary analyses of survey and administrative data have shown positive impacts on work-related stress and lower rates of foster care admissions in experimental than comparison parishes. Although in the early stages, this research suggests that job redesign may benefit caseworkers by decreasing stress and increasing opportunities for clinical work with families; and have implications for agencies concerned with efficient use of limited staff resources.