BREAKING NEWS: TexProtects Releases Major Analysis and Recommendations on CPS Workforce
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 9, 2017
Contact: Lee Nichols, Communications Director
Dallas, Texas —TexProtects, the Texas Association for the Protection of Children, has released a comprehensive report on the challenges facing Texas’ Child Protective Services’ (CPS) attempts to attract and retain a quality workforce, including recommendations for improvement.
High turnover has persistently plagued CPS for years, resulting in poor and sometimes fatal outcomes for Texas children. An annual turnover rate of 26.51% since 2001 has contributed heavily to CPS being in a constant state of turmoil, punctuated by emergencies. For front-line investigative caseworkers, the turnover rate has hovered between 31% and 34% since 2010, almost double the rate of all state employees.
High turnover results in an inexperienced staff making life-and-death decisions. TexProtects’ study found poor compensation, excessive and unmanageable caseloads, insufficient education requirements, burnout, lack of secondary traumatic stress supports and lack of supportive supervision to be major drivers of this turnover. In late 2016, Texas legislators gave emergency approval for pay increases and additional hires.
“We believe that this research report, in progress for over one year, will prove to be a valuable tool for legislators as they build the missing formula for improving the performance of Child Protective Services’ workforce and producing better outcomes for Texas children,” said Madeline McClure, CEO of TexProtects. “The emergency pay raises and hires approved in 2016 must be continued by the 85th Legislature to attract the talent CPS needs, and then we must create a key set of other changes, including a supportive culture at the agency, to keep them there.”
“The recommendations outlined in our report will bring average caseloads down to a manageable level, reducing worker burnout and most importantly, ensuring abuse and neglect allegations are investigated in a timely fashion,” said Dimple Patel, the report’s lead author and a former CPS caseworker. “If we demand excellence from CPS staff, then we must create an environment that makes success possible.”
Among the report’s major recommendations:
Market-driven cost-of-living salary differential – bringing salaries on par with comparable professions, and competitive in the position’s local market.
Performance-based merit pay – current merit pay focuses too much on quantitative measurements such as timely filing of reports, not on improved outcomes for children and families.
Improve the career ladder at CPS.
Utilize the “just-in-time” hire-ahead model that reduced turnover in Dallas from 46% to 27%.
Reduce caseload sizes through hiring “high retention” quality workers through incentives for hiring specialists and trainers.
Assign complexity rankings for caseloads to manage workloads
Require more degreed social workers, rather than just any four-year degree: Minimum 65% Bachelor’s-level social workers and 25% Master’s-level social workers, with 10% exceptional applicants from other human services fields.
Eliminate reduced education requirements for front-line staff in light of higher compensation that will increase the size and quality of the hiring pool.
Stress and Burnout
- Additional on-site supports should be integrated into day-to-day program work, including supplements to the Employee Assistance Program and wellness supports such as decompression rooms and counselors on site.
Caseworker-to-supervisor ratios should be lowered to 5-1.
Reduce caseworker turnover to provide more tenured caseworkers for promotion to Supervision.
The report then takes a deeper dive into state-specific recommendations at every level of the Child Protective Services process. A companion piece to TexProtects’ Child Protective Services Workforce Analysis and Recommendations is its 2014 report, Understanding Texas’ Child Protective Services System, which includes a comprehensive, detailed flowchart that guides readers through the entire process of how CPS operates.
Please see the full report attached, or access it any time at http://texprotects.org/media/uploads/improving_the_protection_of_texas_children_workforce_analysis._january_2017_final_release.pdf
TexProtects, The Texas Association for the Protection of Children, was created to tackle issues of Child Protective Services (CPS) reform, prevention and public awareness to bring a collective, organized voice representing the needs of children at risk of abuse and survivors of child abuse and neglect. The organization is autonomous, nonpartisan and nonpolitical, designed to educate decision makers, private funders and the public at large. To date, it is the only Texas organization that has a dedicated focus on the main issues of protection, prevention, and healing of abused and neglected children. For more information, please visit www.TexProtects.org.