Organizational supports for child welfare social workers experiencing work burnout related to organizational factors

Child welfare social workers have demanding jobs as frontline workers frequently working with trauma survivors, and are often affected by burnout. The purpose of this study was to identify what agency supports and resources are available to CWS social workers who experience work related burnout. This study utilized a qualitative research approach. An open-ended online survey questionnaire was distributed to fifty-four participants from the Human Service Agency of Merced County. A major finding from this study was that nearly all participants identified and discussed the effectiveness of two types of supports available to assist them in addressing burnout: formal support such as Employee Assistance Program (EAP), individual based agency support, and supervisor support. Participants also identified lack of agency support to prevent or address burnout. Results showed that effective supervision was the most accessed formal support by CWS workers to address the experiences of burnout. The second type of support participants identified and discussed was the effectiveness of informal support provided by colleagues and family. Results showed that CWS workers preferred accessing informal colleague support over formal supports, such as EAP. The current findings suggest that organizational practices and policies may want to emphasis on developing effective supervision, providing on-site counseling services, and lowering caseload among CWS workers. Organizations may also focus on supporting supervisors as they play a vital role in helping social workers cope with job demands and emotional stress from work.