Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Social Work

First Advisor

Jean East, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Robin Leake

Third Advisor

Nicole N. Nicotera

Fourth Advisor

Michele Hanna

Fifth Advisor

Nicholas Cutforth


Child welfare, Job demand resource theory, Occupational stress, Workforce


The child welfare system is charged with providing safety, permanency, and wellbeing for millions of children impacted by abuse and neglect requiring a highly effective and efficient workforce. Unfortunately, the health of the child welfare workforce, organizations, and system have been described as substandard as evidenced by chronic rates of high turnover and burnout and their inability to consistently meet national child safety and wellbeing standards. One factor contributing to the substandard functioning is the workforces' experience of occupational stress. This study contributes to a deeper understanding of the child welfare workforces' experience of occupational stress through a qualitative secondary data analysis of over 400 child welfare professionals including caseworkers, supervisors, and managers. In addition to illustrating how committed the workforce is to making a difference in the lives of the children and families they serve, the data revealed the perceived significant impact occupational stress has on their physical and mental health, family work balance, team morale, effective practice, intent to stay, program implementation, organizational climate and ultimately, client outcomes. Significant themes from this study will inform the creation of a more congruent practice and policy environment by aligning caseworker and supervisor values with day to day practice expectations, tasks, and evaluation. Future research focusing on the unique experiences of supervisors and managers and the interactions of all staff in the child welfare system addressing the systems most pressing issues will augment our understanding of occupational stress in child welfare. Finally, innovative and targeted interventions aimed to prevent and/or mitigate occupational stress unique to the child welfare system will be informed by the findings of this study encouraging more in depth research, attention to congruency, and consideration of the influence on occupational stress from multiple roles within the system hopefully contributing to more effective occupational stress intervention implementation.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Ann Christine Obermann


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

447 p.


Social Work, Organization Theory

Included in

Social Work Commons