According to a recent survey by the N.C. Association of County Directors of Social Services, almost half North Carolina's child-protection workers quit their jobs in the past year. Once vacant, jobs in protective services stayed unfilled, on average, for three months.
The 59 DSS directors who responded to the association's survey also reported that 54 percent of the people they hired last year were more than two years short of the experience needed to meet minimum job requirements. Once in their new positions, it took most workers more than four months to assume and manage their full monthly caseload.
Though the reason for this situation may be obvious to those in the field, the Wilmington Morning Star gives a concise explanation of why counties are having a hard time hiring and keeping qualified child-protection workers: "The work is of priceless importance, but it's hard and stressful and often doesn't pay as much as other jobs that require similar qualifications."
The Morning Star then calls on local and state governments, for the sake of the children and families involved, to take steps to make careers in child welfare in North Carolina more attractive and rewarding.
The Partnership's Response
Although it can't change the compensation child welfare workers receive, the NCDSS Children's Services Statewide Training Partnership is working hard to ensure that the many new child welfare workers coming into our system are properly trained to support families and protect children.
In addition to the usual efforts it makes to guarantee the training it delivers is job-relevant and competency-based, it is adding a fifth regional training center, developing a handbook about training for new workers, and offering workers a chance to earn training credits through its annual children's services conference.
New Training Center
Located at the Cumberland County DSS, the new regional training center will increase the partnership's ability to provide the child welfare training North Carolina urgently needs. Because its location is more convenient to some counties than its current training centers in Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro, and Kinston, this Fayetteville site will save agencies some of the costs associated with sending people to training. In addition, this site will enable the partnership to increase the number of times the Preservice and other core courses are offered.
This new site is set to open in in April 2001. For more information about this new training center contact Connie Polk (t: 919/733-7662).
New Training Handbook
The N.C. Division of Social Services will also soon publish Child Welfare Training in North Carolina: A Handbook for New Workers.
Designed to help them understand and get the most out of North Carolina's child welfare training system, this handbook will provide new workers with registration guidelines, recommended training sequences, and an exploration of supervisors' role in the development of new workers.
Developed by the NCDSS in collaboration with the Jordan Institute for Families at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work and other partnership members, this handbook will be available in April 2001.
March 2001 Conference
The partnership will sponsor a conference in Greensboro in March 2001 (see below). The conference will give workers an opportunity to receive credit toward in-service training requirements.