Direct practice contact: Predicting frontline child welfare workers' time with clients

Wendy Zeitlin, Sreyashi Chakravarty, Catherine Lawrence, Angela DeCristofano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Understanding how child welfare workers manage their time is an important area of study because of the critical role they play in the lives of vulnerable children and families and because the demands of the job have been indicated as a factor in high rates of undesired turnover. This research identifies worker, client, agency and societal factors that are predictive of the amount of time frontline workers spend in direct practice with their clients. The sample for this study was drawn from a multi-state survey of child welfare workers (n = 3920) in two jurisdictions. Respondents were included in the sample if they worked directly with children and families and had ongoing relationships with their clients in out-of-home care. The final sample consisted of 446 direct care workers. Structural equation modeling (SEM) indicated that a perceived culture of practice improvement moderated the relationship between frontline worker stress and time spent with clients. Additionally, satisfaction with supervision was predictive of both a culture of practice improvement and time spent with clients. Feelings of blame from society when a tragedy occurred was predictive of frontline worker stress, and higher levels of client trauma were predictive of less client contact. Implications for practice and suggestions for future study are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-15
Number of pages7
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - May 2019


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