(Posted 2022 November)
It’s not an exaggeration to say that the child welfare industry is struggling. The Child Welfare Information Gateway states that “child welfare agencies continuously face challenges of recruiting, training, and retaining child welfare professionals.”
Child welfare careers can be a hard sell. The work is challenging, and the pay doesn’t always keep pace with jobs in the latest buzzworthy fields like data science, information technology, or cybersecurity.
And like teachers, but more quietly, child welfare workers are having a moment in which many private sector employers are eager to hire them to fill voids left in the wake of the Great Resignation. With skills like critical thinking, facilitation, organization, and problem solving, these experienced practitioners are in high demand.
Labor reports indicate that local and state governments have been contending with an exodus of staff for some time, partly due to retirements. A recent survey by Mission Square Institute indicates that 38% of responding governments have seen public employees accelerating their retirement plans in the aftermath of COVID-19.
Within the Fairfax County Department of Family Services, vacancy rates for child welfare staff have been hovering around 17% overall, with higher vacancy rates for case carrying practitioners. These staff vacancies create a domino effect as employees switch positions within an agency and sometimes this cascades outward into other partner agencies doing similar work.
The forecast is not all doom and gloom. We’ve acknowledged the challenges. Now let’s explore the rewards of working in child welfare, and the 5 reasons to work with us in DFS Children, Youth and Families.