Oklahoma Department of Human Services

Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) is a state-operated child welfare system, but hiring has always been done locally. The agency is divided into five field regions serving 27 districts and 77 counties. In 2017, OKDHS employed 1,780 Child Welfare Specialists (caseworkers) and 388 supervisors. That same year, the annual turnover rate was 25%. They applied to be a QIC-WD site with the goal of strengthening their child welfare workforce. 


What is competency-based personnel selection and why was this intervention selected?

Exploration of Needs

The Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (QIC-WD) worked with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) to conduct a needs assessment. A variety of information was explored to learn about the current workforce and the agency’s child welfare workforce practices, including:

Standardized Competency-based Hiring Process

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services, worked with the QIC-WD to standardize their child welfare hiring practices. This video highlights how they created their new competency-based selection process and shares the experiences of staff and leaders who’ve participated in the new process.

Watch the Video

During the needs assessment  process three areas of opportunity were discussed for possible intervention at the Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) Division of Child Welfare Services:  

  1. hiring of new workers,
  2.  promotion decisions for lead worker and supervisor positions, and
  3.  staff recognition and rewards.

Ultimately, one theory of change was developed to step through the “if, then” logic for implementation of a standardized hiring process to improve worker retention and performance. 

The Implementation Team

The QIC-WD evaluation was conducted with the support of the Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) to determine if a Competency-based Personnel Selection process was effective in improving workforce and child welfare outcomes.

A Competency-based Personnel Selection process was the intervention designed as part of the QIC-WD project to address inconsistencies in hiring and to identify candidates with the desired competencies to be hired as Child Welfare Specialist (CWS) I/II with Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) (for more information see the Site Overview). The Competency-based Personnel Selection process is a standardized hiring procedure that includes a structured interview with behaviorally anchored rating scales, a typing assessment, and a writing assessment.

The Child Welfare Services division of Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) is a state-administered child welfare agency. The OKDHS divisions are supported by centralized operations including Human Resource Management (HRM). A small team of human resources professionals within Child Welfare Services work closely with HRM to support Child Welfare Services’ personnel needs.