Announcing Rapid Cycle Recruitment Sites

Attracting and hiring new child welfare workers has always been a challenge, but in this tight job market it seems more difficult than ever. There are a variety of pressing challenges that state leaders identified last summer and recruiting new workers ranked high among their concerns. Citing dwindling pools of applicants, a lack of interest among social work students, competition from the private sector, and pay, leaders have been exploring new recruitment strategies. The Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (QIC-WD) is dedicated to building evidence about what works to strengthen the child welfare workforce and this project provides an opportunity to conduct rapid cycle evaluation of recruitment practices.

The QIC-WD is beginning work with five teams from across the U.S. to evaluate their child welfare recruitment efforts in real time. The teams are from agencies in California, Alaska, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. The recruitment goals of each team vary greatly, and their experiences are expected to provide information from which other child welfare agencies can benefit. Examples of the rapid-cycle evaluation ideas include:

  • Using historical data to examine how long social work students from specific universities stayed with the child welfare agencies and how their case practice compared to those who didn’t come out of those programs.
  • Implementing and evaluating a training program for students in majors other than social work, who would participate in a child welfare training program during their senior year of college and be offered a job as a fully trained caseworker upon graduation.
  • Examining strategies to reduce the time between a job posting and hiring.

Site teams will include people who are intimately familiar with the agency’s recruitment data, those in charge of recruiting practices, and a child welfare representative who is involved in the selection stage of the recruitment process and has decision-making authority within their agency. These teams will work through a needs assessment process to determine which specific recruitment strategy will be evaluated as part of the project. The team, in partnership with the QIC-WD, will then create an evaluation plan and move into implementation (if not already operating the recruitment strategy) and conduct rapid cycle evaluation throughout 2023. Learnings from the implementation and evaluation will be fed into sustainability planning at the site level, and the QIC-WD will work to share what is learned by the sites to inform the larger field of child welfare.

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