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

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

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740912002769
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Children and Youth Services Review.

    Volume (Year): 34 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 10 ()
    Pages: 2088-2093

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:34:y:2012:i:10:p:2088-2093
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/childyouth

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    1. Faller, Kathleen Coulborn & Grabarek, Marguerite & Ortega, Robert M., 2010. "Commitment to child welfare work: What predicts leaving and staying?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 840-846, June.
    2. 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.
    3. Ellett, Alberta J., 2009. "Intentions to remain employed in child welfare: The role of human caring, self-efficacy beliefs, and professional organizational culture," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 78-88, January.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Strolin-Goltzman, Jessica, 2010. "Improving turnover in public child welfare: Outcomes from an organizational intervention," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1388-1395, October.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
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