At ECHO, we seek to honor the work of social workers, especially those in child-serving and family-serving roles who advocate selflessly to preserve and heal families, and rally support for them to help boost job satisfaction, push back against the impacts of secondary trauma and compassion fatigue, and reduce the burden of case-overload, and help us all remember why we do this work... the child and their family.
The success of a child's placement is heavily dependent on the consistency of the caseworker. A 2005 study from the University of Houston found that for children in foster care who have only one caseworker have a 74.5% chance of achieving permanency within one year. But with the turnover of just one worker in the child's case, the chance of permanency is reduced to 17%. And by the time the child has five caseworkers, the likelihood of finding stability in a family is only 0.3%.
A number of factors contribute to the turnover rate of child welfare workers; non-competitive wages, caseloads at more than twice the federal guidance, adverse personal and professional experiences, difficulties finding resources, and more.
Caseworkers often feel villainized and isolated and many find themselves working under the stigma of a predecessor's or another agency's indiscretions. Public perception of a child-serving caseworker can be less than benevolent. And while we do not know every child-serving caseworker in America or even in our own communities, the ones we know personally and work with regularly are diligently and selflessly serving children and their families with their whole hearts.
As you read this right now, a caseworker somewhere in your town is in court with a child and helping the family navigate the legal system. One's in the hospital assessing traumatic situations. Another is visiting a family in a home owned by a negligent landlord and helping them figure out the next steps to protect their family. Their work is never once for a single moment easy.
So when we individually and as a society imagine the child-serving caseworker, I invite us to elevate our view and pray for their emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being and find ways to encourage and lift some of the burdens they carry and never speak of.
Caseworker... we're cheering for you!