Factors impacting intention to leave in social workers and child care workers employed at voluntary agencies

Wendy Schudrich, Charles Auerbach, Junqing Liu, Gretta Fernandes, Brenda McGowan, Nancy Claiborne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Introduction: To ameliorate high turnover in child welfare, researchers have attempted to identify factors that lead to undesirable turnover. While this has been studied extensively, little attention has been paid to turnover based upon job roles. Like social workers in child welfare, the field of child care also experiences high turnover. Child care workers employed in child welfare settings are no exception. The current study seeks to understand differential factors that impact intent to leave for preventive and child care workers employed in child welfare agencies. Materials and methods: Data for prevention workers (n = 538) were obtained from all preventive service programs under contract with the City. Data for child care workers (n = 222) were obtained from three voluntary agencies located elsewhere in the State. The instrument was a modified version of a survey developed to examine job satisfaction and potential turnover among public child welfare workers. Domains measured included job satisfaction, intention to leave, career commitment, and agency investment. Data were analyzed using bivariate analysis and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). Results: Child care workers had more positive perceptions of child welfare and planned to stay in child welfare longer. Despite this, prevention workers felt more invested in their work. Child care and prevention workers had different levels of satisfaction with their jobs although overall job satisfaction did not differ nor did their intention to leave. Tenure at the agency was predictive of career investment. Investment, perceptions of child welfare, satisfaction with nature of work, and contingent rewards were associated with career commitment. Commitment and satisfaction with supervision were the greatest predictors of intention to leave. Discussion: There is a gap in literature addressing child care workers in child welfare, and future study of this group is needed. Child care workers are just as likely to intend to leave their jobs as prevention workers. For both groups, it appears that investment in their jobs increases commitment to the field which reduces intention to leave.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-90
Number of pages7
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Child care
  • Child welfare
  • Prevention
  • Structural equation modeling
  • Worker turnover


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