Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


While there are many avenues to discuss and explore, the key area of interest for the Capstone Project is that of retention of a competent frontline workforce. Each state has their own set of guidelines for hiring frontline workers which allows for variety in the educational backgrounds of the investigative and ongoing workers. This can become problematic when the educational background may not be the most suited for the work and challenges faced by child welfare workers.

During the development of the Capstone Project, one could not help but wonder that if workers were adequately prepared for the demands of the job (knowing how to deal with difficult issues such as poverty, neglect, abuse, domestic violence, substance misuse, mental health issues, and interacting systemic issues) that workers would not feel as overwhelmed and leave the system. It would also seem that workers who are more equipped for the job would bring better overall outcomes to the children and families served as they are more qualified at understanding the compounding factors to the issues they face.

Product one was a systematic literature review focused on examining any relation between child welfare workers with social work degrees and their retention in the field. The review aimed to answer the question: does having a social work degree improve workforce retention in child welfare organizations? The knowledge obtained lends to implications to child welfare practice and the need for current research on the topic.

Product two was a conceptual paper focused on the use of available literature and theory to suggest that if we can try to confront the systemic problems within the child welfare system through those providing direct service, then we would start to see improved child outcomes through worker competence. This product explored the background of the issue of workforce competence, previous attempts to address the issue, and the presentation of new knowledge using the social work degree requirement for hiring. A connection was also drawn between child welfare work, social work education, and the use of ecological systems theory.

Product three was a practice application paper to articulate the proposed solution of requiring social work degrees presented within the conceptual paper. This paper explored how the requirement can be accomplished while retaining its current workforce. The goal of this practice solution is to improve competence which in turn would improve agency outcomes for the families served.

The Capstone Project revealed a common theme—the lack of available research on education, retention, and competence. This highlights the need for child welfare social workers to publish and disseminate the work they are doing to be leaders of change for other agencies. It is easy to constantly identify the issues within the system, but difficult to identify, articulate, and evaluate solutions.

Available for download on Sunday, April 14, 2024