Article, Refereed Journal
Children and Youth Services Review
Caseworker turnover is a persistent problem for child welfare agencies. This study examines whether field-based pre-service training decreases turnover and examines which organizational factors mediate the effect of training on turnover. We used the population of caseworkers (N = 2365) hired into three caseworker roles during the transition from classroom-based to field-based training in a large U.S. state to compare differences in turnover between classroom-trained and field-trained caseworkers using discrete-time logistic regressions. We find that field-trained conservatorship caseworkers have 39% lower odds of leaving the agency within 18 months of hire compared to similar classroom-trained caseworkers. We examined whether organizational factors explain the effect of training on turnover rates among a sample of surveyed conservatorship caseworkers (72% response rate). We conducted decomposition models to determine the direct and indirect effects of training on turnover. We found that job satisfaction fully mediates the turnover effect and caseworker burnout partially mediates the effect of field-based training on turnover. Though we observed no effect on turnover, field-trained caseworkers in investigations and family-based safety services reported higher job satisfaction. The findings provide the first empirical support for an industry trend toward field-based training.