Tennessee is the latest state to quantify its difficulty in retaining trained child welfare case managers. Its turnover rate is a bit more than 25%, and almost half of its case managers leave in their first year of service. In my experience, only part of the problem is low pay. A much bigger problem is a variety of micromanagement by supervisors, vilification in the popular culture, and being blamed for everything that goes wrong in a particular case. Until we solve the problem and find a way to keep rational, experienced case managers in the system, we don’t have a hope of reforming the problems we have in our child welfare systems.
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Child Welfare’s Employee Exodus
[Commissioner] Quin called the turnover rate "horrific" as the department faces a challenge of correcting years of systemic staffing woes and increased numbers of children in state foster care. DCS reports a 47.7% turnover rate for first-year case managers in fiscal year 2023, with an overall average turnover rate just above 25%.
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