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Existence, relatedness, or growth? Examining turnover intention of public child welfare caseworkers from a human needs approach

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  • Chen, Yi-Yi
  • Park, Jisung
  • Park, Aely

Abstract

Research suggests pay and benefits are ineffective to sustain a stable workforce in public child welfare. It is important to know what other mechanisms would motivate caseworkers to stay at the job. However, the relation of factors contributing to the prevalent problem of turnover in public child welfare remains unclear in part due to a lack of theoretical base in research. This study therefore develops a conceptual framework based on the human needs theory of Alderfer (1969, 1972) to examine what motivates caseworkers' turnover intention. The three categories of needs are existence needs regarding pay and benefits, relatedness needs regarding at-work relationships and life-work balance, and growth needs regarding career development and fulfillment. With a secondary dataset of 289 caseworkers in a northeastern state, our structural equation modeling results show the dynamics between caseworkers' needs and their differential impact on turnover intention. The effect of existence needs on turnover intention is completely mediated by growth needs. Moreover, the variable of growth needs is found to have the strongest total effect among the three need categories. Administration and management may attenuate turnover intention by enhancing caseworkers' growth needs with respect to meaningfulness of daily practice, contingent rewards, and development of personal career goals.

Suggested Citation

  • Chen, Yi-Yi & Park, Jisung & Park, Aely, 2012. "Existence, relatedness, or growth? Examining turnover intention of public child welfare caseworkers from a human needs approach," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(10), pages 2088-2093.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:34:y:2012:i:10:p:2088-2093
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.07.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Smith, Brenda D., 2005. "Job retention in child welfare: Effects of perceived organizational support, supervisor support, and intrinsic job value," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 153-169, February.
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    4. DePanfilis, Diane & Zlotnik, Joan Levy, 2008. "Retention of front-line staff in child welfare: A systematic review of research," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(9), pages 995-1008, September.
    5. Ellett, Alberta J. & Ellis, Jacquelyn I. & Westbrook, Tonya M. & Dews, Denise', 2007. "A qualitative study of 369 child welfare professionals' perspectives about factors contributing to employee retention and turnover," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 264-281, February.
    6. Gomez, Rebecca J. & Travis, Dnika J. & Ayers-Lopez, Susan & Schwab, A. James, 2010. "In search of innovation: A national qualitative analysis of child welfare recruitment and retention efforts," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 664-671, May.
    7. Auerbach, Charles & McGowan, Brenda G. & Ausberger, Astraea & Strolin-Goltzman, Jessica & Schudrich, Wendy, 2010. "Differential factors influencing public and voluntary child welfare workers' intention to leave," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1396-1402, October.
    8. Smith, Richard J. & Clark, Sherrill J., 2011. "Does job resource loss reduce burnout and job exit for professionally trained social workers in child welfare?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(10), pages 1950-1959, October.
    9. Ryan, Joseph P. & Garnier, Philip & Zyphur, Michael & Zhai, Fuhua, 2006. "Investigating the effects of caseworker characteristics in child welfare," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(9), pages 993-1006, September.
    10. Hopkins, Karen M. & Cohen-Callow, Amy & Kim, Hae Jung & Hwang, Jeongha, 2010. "Beyond intent to leave: Using multiple outcome measures for assessing turnover in child welfare," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1380-1387, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kim, Hyosu & Kao, Dennis, 2014. "A meta-analysis of turnover intention predictors among U.S. child welfare workers," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(P3), pages 214-223.
    2. Kim, Ahraemi & Mor Barak, Michàlle E., 2015. "The mediating roles of leader–member exchange and perceived organizational support in the role stress–turnover intention relationship among child welfare workers: A longitudinal analysis," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 135-143.

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