Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Kenneth I. Millar


This study was designed to explore individual and organizational factors useful in explaining retention of professional staff in public child welfare agencies. The study examined linkages among a set of theoretically grounded personal/psychological and organizational variables and child welfare professionals' expressed intentions to remain employed in child welfare. Typically, studies in human services organizations have focused on issues pertaining to employee turnover and burnout. Alternatively, this study addressed personal and organizational factors related to employee retention in child welfare. The study used large sample survey and quantitative data analysis methods to examine relationships among elements of professional organizational culture, human caring, self-efficacy, and professional level employees' intentions to remain employed in child welfare in two states (Arkansas and Louisiana). Measures of intent to remain (employed) in child welfare settings, human caring, self-efficacy beliefs, and professional organizational culture were developed to explore linkages among the study variables. Differences between groups of respondents' characteristics and the two sample states (e.g., degree level, years of employment) were also examined. Results of the study showed that intention to remain employed in child welfare is largely explained by staff members' positive perceptions of administrative support and self-efficacy motivation beliefs about work tasks. Large differences between the two states were evident in employees' age, length of employment and in educational degrees. Implications of the findings for the pre-service preparation, recruitment, selection, retention and professional development of child welfare staff were discussed, and suggestions for future research and theory building within the context of child welfare were described.