You are on page 1of 8

Children and Youth Services Review 60 (2016) 8087

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Children and Youth Services Review


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/childyouth

Organizational climate and child welfare workers' degree of intent to


leave the job: Evidence from New York
Gretta M. Fernandes
Department of Human Services, New York City College of Technology/CUNY, 300 Jay Street, N424, Brooklyn NY-11201, USA

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 4 April 2015
Received in revised form 9 November 2015
Accepted 9 November 2015
Available online 11 November 2015
Keywords:
The degree of intent to leave the job
Structural Equation Model (SEM)
Organizational Justice and Support

a b s t r a c t
With increasingly unstable workforce in child welfare agencies, it is critical to understand what organizational
factors lead to intent to leave the job based on job search behaviors. Using recent survey data collected among
359 child welfare workers from eight agencies in New York State during 20092011 and a Structural Equation
Model (SEM) method, this study examines the relationship between employee perceptions of organizational
climate and the degree of intent to leave the job (thinking, looking and taking actions related to a new job).
Fifty-seven percent (n = 205) reported that they had considered looking for a new job in the past year. Bivariate
analyses indicated that there were signicant differences between those who looked for a job and those who did
not look for a job in the past year. SEM analysis revealed that four organizational climate factors were predictive
of decreasing the degree of intent to leave the job: Perceptions on organizational justice was most predictive
factor for thinking of a new job followed by organizational support, work overload and job importance. The
ndings of this study help us understand the employee perceptions of different organizational factors that impact
employee turnover especially from the time an employee thinks of leaving the job to actually taking concrete
actions related to a new job.
2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
The child welfare agencies are mandated to provide for the well
being, permanency, and safety of vulnerable children and families
(U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS], 2008). In
New York State, child welfare services are administered at countylevel and are supervised at state-level. The state Ofce of Children and
Families Services (OCFS) establishes the regulatory framework and
policies; the administration of services is managed by the fty-seven
counties (Strolin, McCarthy, & Caringi, 2007).
For more than ve decades, research has focused on causes of high
turnover in child welfare agencies. Studies indicate that different factors
of organizational climate are likely to cause high turnover or affect
workers' intent to leave the job or look for a new job (Brown & Leigh,
1996; Claiborne et al., 2011; Cyphers, 2001; Glisson, 2010; McGowan,
Auerbach, & Strolin-Goltzman, 2009; Shim, 2010).
Thus far there have been no studies on the organizational climate
and the degree of intent (thinking, looking and taking actions) to
leave the job based on job search behavior. Though there have been
many attempts to understand this grave problem of high turnover in
child welfare agencies, the child welfare workforce remains unstable.
The role of child welfare workers is critical in the United States
(Bednar, 2003) as large numbers of children are receiving services

E-mail address: GFernandes@citytech.cuny.edu.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2015.11.010
0190-7409/ 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

from child welfare system. With increasing high employee turnover


rate, it is imperative to generate an empirical body of knowledge that
identies organizational climate factors associated with the degree of
intent to leave based on job search behaviors among child welfare
workers. The goal of this study is to examine the possible inuence of
child welfare workers' perceptions of agency climate on their degree
of intent to leave. This study primarily focuses on the degree of intent
to leave the job, namely, from the time a worker thinks of leaving the
job, to looking for a new job and taking actions to nd a new job. During
these three stages, what organizational factors are most likely to impact
the decision to leave the job?
2. Literature review
2.1. Organizational climate and child welfare workers
Though there are very few studies addressing organizational climate
in child welfare agencies, research indicates that climate affects human
service agencies as much it affects business and industrial sectors
(Glisson & Green, 2006; Glisson & James, 2002). Moreover, employee
perceptions are considered very important to human service organizations because its success depends upon interactions between its employees and service recipients (Brown & Leigh, 1996; Glisson, 2000).
Shim (2010) in a systematic examination of survey data conducted
in 2002 and 2003 by New York State Social Work Education Consortium
(SWEC) noted that emotional energy, a dimension of organizational

G.M. Fernandes / Children and Youth Services Review 60 (2016) 8087

climate was closely associated with intent to leave among child welfare
employees. In another study by Claiborne et al. (2011) found that three
domains of organizational climate: autonomy, challenge and innovation
predict greater job commitment among child welfare workers. In a national sample of child welfare agencies, engaged organizational climates
were linked to positive long term outcomes for maltreated children.
Also, the same study identied that the caseworkers in child welfare
systems with engaged climates are more likely to meet the challenges
of bureaucratic and judicial hurdles of each child (Glisson & Green,
2011). Poor organizational climate in child welfare system was found
to increase case workers' job related stress and decrease their capacities
in assisting the maltreated children. Poor organizational climate was
linked to high caseworker turnover rates, which negatively impacts
the relationships with their clients (Cyphers, 2001; U.S. General
Accounting Ofce, 2003).
2.2. Turnover in child welfare agencies
It has been recognized that high turnover rates in child welfare agencies have been a major problem (Nissly, Mor Barak, & Levin, 2005). For
more than one decade, there have been studies on causes of turnover in
child welfare system (Dickinson & Perry, 2002; McGowan et al., 2009:
Scannapieco & Connell-Carrick, 2007; Smith, 2005). Turnover in child
welfare could range from employees' intention to leave (Nissly et al.,
2005; Tham, 2007) to actual leaving the job (Rosenthal & Waters,
2004). Intention to leave is considered to be as part of the withdrawal
process. Also poor work environments further confound the challenges
faced by case workers in child welfare agencies, thus contributing to
job-related stress, poor services and high turnover (Glisson, Dukes, &
Green, 2006; U.S. General Accounting Ofce, 2003).
The major consequences of high turnover in child welfare are on
children and their families in regard to quality, consistency and stability
of services (Powell & York, 1992). Turnover negatively impacts primarily children as they are more likely to spend more time in the foster care
and are less likely to be re-unied with parents (Ryan, Garnier, Zyphur,
& Zhai, 2006) or placed in a permanent situation (Flower, McDonald &
Sumski, 2005).
2.3. Degree of intent to leave the job
The degree of intent to leave may lead to actual leaving. For the purpose of this paper, the only literature pertaining to child welfare
workers' intent to leave is reviewed here as it leads to job search behaviors. Due to high turnover rates in child welfare agencies and difculty in recruiting and retaining child welfare workers (GAO, 2003),
the focus has been shifted to study factors related to child welfare
workers' turnover, retention, intent to stay and intent to leave.
Mor Barak, Nissly, and Levin (2001) and Nissly et al. (2005) explain
intention to leave as a precursor to and predictor of actual leaving or
turnover.
Empirical research indicates that personal, organizational and environmental factors are related to the intent to leave and the turnover
decisions in child welfare agencies. Personal factors are job satisfaction,
role overload, personal commitment to children and families, education,
efcacy and emotional exhaustion. The organizational factors are
organizational commitment and valuing employees, opportunities for
advancement, better pay, supervisory support, reasonable workload
and coworker support (DePanlis & Zlotnik, 2008). Some of the environmental factors which can have direct inuence on intention to
leave are geographic location, and size of metropolitan area, economic
status and supporting organizations (Abelson & Baysinger, 1984) and
individuals' perceptions of competition in the job market (Price,
2004). Although environmental and personal factors also impact employee turnover, the focus of this study is in on individuals' perceptions
of organizational climate impacting their intent to leave the job.

81

The perceived choice of other jobs and job tenure had an impact on
intention to leave for childcare staff (Manlove & Guzell, 1997). Balfour
and Neff (1993) pointed out that child protective service caseworkers'
stake in the organization, commitment to the profession, and levels of
education determined their intent to leave during times of high turnover. Other studies point out that the strongest predictors of the intent
to leave are found to be organizational commitment, high stress, job
satisfaction, young age and decision-making structure (MorBarak,
Levin, Nissly, & Lane, 2006). Organizational stress, low support from
supervisors and coworkers were signicantly related to child welfare
workers' intent to leave (Nissly et al., 2005).
In a study of voluntary and public child welfare workers in an urban
area, by Auerbach, McGowan, Augsberger, Strolin-Goltzman, and
Schudrich (2010) it was found that lower investment in child welfare
work, lower satisfaction with contingent rewards, and the nature of
work were associated with intent to leave. Likewise, contingent rewards
and nature of work strongly inuenced childcare workers' intention to
leave or obtain other work (McGowan, Auerbach, Conroy, Augsberger,
& Schudrich, 2010).
Job search behaviors are predictors of turnover (Vandenberg &
Barnes Nelson, 1999), and they indicate the degree of intent or commitment to leave (McGowan et al., 2010).
In conclusion, literature reviewed indicates that one of the major
challenges faced by child welfare agencies is employee turnover. Child
welfare worker turnover is also costly and detrimental for the quality
of child welfare work. Factors which affect turnover in child welfare
agencies are organizational and personal. Despite numerous studies in
turnover, recent studies increasingly indicate that the perception of
organizational climate is important in affecting child welfare workers'
intent to leave or stay. More studies need to focus on to what extent
workers' perceptions of organizational climate impacts the degree
(thinking, looking and acting) of intent to leave the job.
3. Data and methods
3.1. Data
The sample is drawn from child welfare workers who are employed
in eight voluntary child welfare (not for prot) agencies in New York
State. All workers including, direct care workers, managers and administrators were invited to participate in the study. In total 359 workers
participated in the study. The participation in the study was voluntary.
This study is based on secondary analysis of data that have been collected to study turnover among child welfare workers in New York
State. The Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Fordham University
approved the secondary analysis of the original data for this study.
The Institutional Review Boards of Yeshiva University and the University at Albany approved the original study. The research team
contacted the child welfare agencies, which were part of the original
study in New York State. The research team visited the agencies and addressed the staff at a meeting. Informed consents and questionnaires
were distributed to all eligible staff. The respondents were asked to
return the signed informed consents and completed questionnaires to
the research team members who were waiting at the site to respond
to any questions in regard to the questionnaire and to collect the
completed surveys and the signed informed consent forms.
3.2. Measures
This section provides a conceptual denition of variables and a rationale for inclusion partially based on Parker et al. (2003) framework
which guides this study.
The measures were developed as part of an earlier study on workforce retention in public child welfare agencies, which was funded by
the U.S. Children's Bureau (Strolin-Goltzman, Auerbach, McGowan, &
McCarthy, 2008). The questionnaire included four dimensions (role,

82

G.M. Fernandes / Children and Youth Services Review 60 (2016) 8087

job, organization and supervision) in Parker and Colleagues' Organizational Psychological Climate Scale (2003).
3.2.1. Dependent variable
Degree of intent to leave: Intention to leave has been utilized as a
precursor to and predictor of actual leaving. Intention to leave has been
found to have a strong correlation with job retention (Mor Barak et al.,
2001). This study employs a child welfare worker's stated degree of intention to leave rather than actual job exit as its dependent variable. Degree of intent to leave was measured by asking the respondents
whether they considered looking for a new job in the past year. If a
respondent answered Yes, it received a code of 1. If a respondent answered No, it was coded as 0. Seven subsequent questions to measure
the degree of their intent to leave were based on job search behaviors in
the past year were: 1). How often have you spoken with friends/spouse/
partner about leaving? 2). How often have you looked in the paper for a
new job? 3). How often have you looked in professional journals for a
new job? 4). How many phone inquiries have you made about other
jobs? 5). How often do you search the internet for jobs? 6). How
many resumes have you sent out? 7). How many job interviews have
you had? These seven items were measured on a scale of 0 to 4 and
the range for the overall score was 0 to 28. The lowest possible score
being 0 and highest possible score is 28. Hence a lower score indicates
a decreased degree of intent to leave. This variable pertains to respondents who indicated or intended to leave the agency/job during the
past one year.
3.2.2. Independent variable
Organizational Climate: Organizational climate was measured by
the Psychological Climate Survey (Parker et al., 2003). There are four dimensions to climate measure and each comprising of three sub-scales. A
total of forty-eight items were measured on a 5-point Likert Scale with
items ranging from 1 = strongly disagree, 2 = disagree, 3 = neither
agree nor disagree, 4 = agree, 5 = strongly agree. The four subscales
are comprised as follows:
1. Role Dimension includes the ambiguity, conict and overload
sub-scales.
2. Job Dimension includes the importance, autonomy and challenge
sub-scales.
3. Organization Dimension includes the innovation, justice and
support sub-scales.
4. Supervisor Dimension includes the trust and support, goal emphasis, and work facilitation sub-scales.
3.3. Analytical strategy
Structural Equation Model (SEM) was used to test the relationship
among the variables of central interest (perceptions of agency climate
and degree of intent to leave). To control for patterns of missing values
in independent variable and control variables, full maximum likelihood
estimator (FML) in Stata (StataCorp., 2011) was conducted. One of the
uses of SEM is Conrmatory Factor Analysis (CFA).
CFA is theory driven and relies on priori hypothesis where models
are either conrmed or rejected. By testing the theoretical relationship
among observed and unobserved variables, population covariance
matrix is compared with observed and unobserved covariance matrix
(Schreiber, Stage, King, Nora, & Barlow, 2006). CFA is conducted to determine the best tting model (Kline, 2011).
In this study the model conrmatory form of SEM was utilized to examine how child welfare workers' degree of intent to leave is based
upon their perceptions of agency climate. CFA and SEM techniques use
observed and unobserved variables. The observed variables are termed
as measured and manifest, and unobserved variables are called latent
factors or constructs. In the diagrams, the circles and squares represent
latent and observed variables respectively. The single sided arrows depict paths and the interrelationship between variables is indicated by

double sided arrows. The absence of lines indicates that there is no


presence of direct effect (Schreiber et al., 2006).
SEM was used to generate a model to explain the different factors of
organizational climate that inuence child welfare workers' degree of
intent to leave. The advantages of using SEM are that it will combine factor and path analyses (Bollen, 1989) model generation (MG) (Joreskog,
1993), and it will also enable tting the data statistically (Kline, 2005).
SEM also allows re-specifying the model until a reasonably parsimonious nal model will be obtained.
4. Results
4.1. Description of the sample
There were N = 359 child welfare workers in the total sample examined for this study. Table 1 presents the socio-demographic characteristics of the sample by their consideration of looking for a new job
in the past year. On average, child welfare workers in this sample who
looked for a job were about 4 years younger than those who did not
look for a job (t = 3.605; p = 0.000). The other signicant sociodemographic variables were education and salary. The current study
uses socio-demographic variables only for describing the sample and
not as control variables in SEM analysis. However, previous studies
(Auerbach et al., 2010; Schudrich et al., 2012) have used sociodemographic variables as control variables in SEM analysis. The use of
socio-demographic variables as control variables would have improved
the robustness of ndings related to the impact of organizational
climate.
Table 2 displays, workers who did not look for a new job reported
more positive perceptions of agency climate on all items than those
who have looked for a new job in the past year. The difference was signicant on all sub-scales except on job challenge and goal emphasis. It is
important to note that the greatest difference between the two groups
was found for organizational support (0.67), overload ( 0.53) and
organizational justice ( 0.53). The least difference between the two
groups was on four subscales on job challenge ( 0.13) and goal emphasis (0.14), autonomy (0.18) and job importance (0.18).
4.2. Degree of Intent to Leave Child Welfare
The degree of intent to leave child welfare is measured by using
The Intent to Leave Child Welfare (ILCW) Scale. Adding the sums
aggregated the three subscales of ILCW scale. The questions were
only related to their current jobs and not leaving the entire child
welfare.
It is made up of three subscales: thinking, looking and acting. Those
who were not thinking of a new job (thinking, looking, acting) were
coded as 0 (No) and those who were thinking of a new job (thinking,
looking, acting) were coded as 1 (Yes). All 359 respondents were included in the SEM analysis, the 149 who did not think about leaving
get a coding of 0 for thinking, looking and taking actions.
4.2.1. Thinking
The two questions addressed for subscale Thinking were: how often
have you thought about leaving? and How often have you spoken
with friends, spouse or partner? The possible answers provided
were: almost never, some of the time, often, very often, and almost every day. The largest group (n = 94; 39.5%) thought about leaving responded as some of the time and for the second question the
largest group who reported that they have spoken some of the time
with friends, spouse or partner were 42.7% (n = 102).
4.2.2. Looking
The response categories for the three questions on looking for a new
job were never, every few months, monthly, weekly, and daily.
The rst question asked was how often have you looked in the paper

G.M. Fernandes / Children and Youth Services Review 60 (2016) 8087

83

Table 1
Socio-demographic characteristics by looking for a new job in the past year (N = 359).
Socio-demographic characteristics

Those who looked for a new job


(N = 205)

Those who did not look for a new job


(N = 146)

Chi-square

Age (mean)*
Gender (%)+
Female
Male
Ethnicity (%)+
African American & African
Caribbean
Hispanic/Latino/a
White
Native American & other (please specify)
No response
Education (%)+
High school diploma
Some college (no degree)
Associate degree
Bachelor's degree (BA/BSW)
Some graduate work (no degree)
MSW
Doctorate
Other graduate degree
Salary (%)*
$25,000 or less
$25,001$30,000
$30,001$35,000
$35,001$45,000
More than $45,001
No response
Marital Status (%)+
Married/with partner
Separated/Divorced/Widowed
Never married
No response
Agency/Site (%)+
Agency 1 & 2
Agency 3
Agency 4
Agency 5
Agency 6
Agency 7
Agency 8

32.16 years

36.60 years

t = 3.605
2 = 3.193

68.3%
31.2%

65.1%
32.2%

21.5%
3.9%
3.9%
61.5%
3.4%
5.9%

24.0%
7.5%
6.8%
52.1%
3.4%
6.2%

6.3%
20.0%
7.8%
24.4%
6.3%
15.1%
2.4%
16.1%

14.4%
20.5%
8.9%
24.7%
5.5%
10.3%
4.1%
8.2%

30.7%
23.4%
15.6%
21.5%
5.9%
2.9%

28.8%
25.3%
11.0%
13.7%
11.6%
9.6%

29.3%
12.2%
55.1%
3.4%

35.6%
11.6%
49.3%
3.4%

3.5%
14.2%
41.6%
9.6%
22.3%
5.1%
7.1%

3.4%
15.8%
38.85
12.2%
25.2%
5.1%
2.9%

2 = 5.086

2 = 13.795

2 = 14.512

2 = 1.644

2 = 3.808

p b 0.05.
p b 0.10.

for a new job? The responses indicate the largest group reported that
they were looking for a new job every few months (n = 65;
28%). The second question asked was how often have you looked
in professional journals for a new job? Once again the largest response was also answered by as every few months by 27.6%

(n = 62) they looked in professional journals for a new job. The


third question asked was how often do you search the internet for
jobs? and the responses indicated that 17.3% (n = 62) every
few months, followed by 12.3% (n = 44) monthly, and 11.2%
(n = 42) weekly searched the internet for jobs.

Table 2
Child welfare workers' perceptions of agency climate by looking for a new job in the last year (higher mean score indicates more positive perceptions of agency climate) (N = 359).
Child welfare workers'
agency perceptions

Those who looked for


a new job (N = 205)

Those who did not look


for a new job (N = 146)

Mean difference

Sub-scale
Ambiguity*
Role conict*
Overload*
Job importance*
Autonomy*
Job challenge +
Innovation*
Organizational justice*
Organizational support*
Supervisor trust and support*
Goal emphasis +
Work facilitation*

3.43
3.08
3.14
3.89
3.35
3.82
3.39
2.93
2.89
3.76
3.67
3.63

3.76
3.47
3.67
4.07
3.52
3.95
3.69
3.46
3.56
4.16
3.80
4.02

0.32
0.38
0.53
0.18
0.18
0.13
0.31
0.53
0.67
0.39
0.14
0.39

4.0
4.5
5.5
2.7
2.4
1.9
41
6.4
6.6
4.2
1.7
4.2

p b 0.05.
p b 0.10.

84

G.M. Fernandes / Children and Youth Services Review 60 (2016) 8087

Fig. 1. Standardized estimates relating to degree of intent to leave: thinking, looking, and acting. 2 = 41.98, df = 17, p = 0.01; RMSEA = 0.07; CFI = 0.98; TLI = 0.96.

4.2.3. Acting
The three questions asked were: How many phone inquiries have
you made about other jobs? How many resumes have you sent
out? and How many job interviews have you had?
The response categories provided for all three were: none, 12,
34, 56, and more than 6. The largest response for all three questions was 12. For phone inquiries 22.9% (n = 54) reported that they
had made about 12 phone inquiries about other jobs in the past year.
Those reporting to have sent out resumes were 26.2% (n = 61) and
29.3% (n = 67) have had 12 job interviews in the past year.

4.2.3.1. Validity of ILCW instrument. Before testing the hypotheses, a


Conrmatory Factor Analysis was conducted to determine the validity
of the ILCW instrument. Those who had conrmed that they had considered looking for a new job in the past year were included in the nal
analysis. The endogenous variable a latent construct of degree of intent

to leave: thinking, looking and acting was included in this analysis. Data
were analyzed by using STATA 12.0.
Fig. 1 illustrates the three factor model with three factors thinking,
looking and acting as latent endogenous factors. The total number of
cases analyzed was 359. Maximum likelihood with missing values
(MLMV) was applied to address the problem of missing data. MLMV
method is considered appropriate for data that appear to be missingat-random (StataCorp., 2011).
This model has the t with 2 of 41.98 (df = 17); p = 0.01), the root
mean square error (RMSEA) of 0.07 (90% CI = 0.05 to 0.10), and the CFI
and the TLI were both above 0.95 (CFI = 0.98; TLI = 0.97). As it is shown
in Fig. 1, model standardized loadings range from 0.61 to 0.93. The correlation between thinking and looking is 0.80, thinking and action is
0.60 and looking and action is 0.68.
Auerbach, Schudrich, Lawrence, Claiborne, and McGowan (2014)
validated ILCW scale by a CFA. CFA ndings determined the validity of
the Intent to Leave Child Welfare Scale. The best tting model consisted

Fig. 2. Theoretical SEM diagram comprising of variables with more than 0.60 factor loadings.

G.M. Fernandes / Children and Youth Services Review 60 (2016) 8087

85

The variables (justice, support, overload, job importance, autonomy


and job challenge) with more than 0.60 factor loadings were included in
the model. The model was re-specied until a reasonably parsimonious
nal model was obtained. Only the six variables with more than 0.60
factor loadings are included in the theoretical diagram as shown in
Fig. 2.

Fig. 3. Standardized estimates in structural model relating to perceptions of agency climate to thinking. 2 = 4.10, df = 3; RMSEA = 0.03, p = 0.25; CFI = 0.99; TLI = 0.99.

of three factors with acceptable t statistics (2 = 28.6, p = 0.04;


RMSEA = 0.05, 90% RMSEA CI = 0.010.08; CFI = 0.99; TLI = 0.98).

4.2.3.2. SEM analysis. For the present study it was hypothesized that the
exogenous/observed factors of positive perceptions of agency climate:
ambiguity, conict, overload, importance, autonomy, challenge, innovation, justice, supported, trust and support, and goal emphasis are associated to the endogenous latent construct of degree of intent to leave:
thinking, looking and taking actions for a new job in the past year.
Three SEM models were created with exogenous variables and endogenous latent constructs thinking, looking and acting respectively.
In order to test study hypothesis, a conrmatory factor analysis
(CFA) was conducted to nd a best-tting model for the data. The
current study utilized the model generating form of SEM as described
by Kline (2005), which enables to determine child welfare workers'
intent to leave the job based upon the impact of organizational climate.
The model were re-specied and respecied by examining the adjusted
chi-square test statistic.

Fig. 4. Standardized estimates in structural model relating to perceptions of agency climate to looking. 2 = 4.65, df = 4, p = 0.32; RMSEA = 0.02; CFI = 0.99; TLI = 0.99.

4.2.4. Perceptions of agency climate and thinking


Positive perceptions of agency climate might decrease child welfare
workers' degree of intent to leave is conrmed by the standardized parameter estimates between these two concepts. The six factors with
more than 0.60 factor loadings were included in the SEM model and
the model was re-specied until a reasonably parsimonious nal
model was obtained. The coefcient values ranged from 0.14 to 0.24
and with p values b 0.05. The higher coefcient value on organizational
justice (0.24) indicates that it is more likely to impact their thinking
about a new job than importance (0.14). As shown in Fig. 3, four exogenous factors justice, support(ed) overload, and importance had the best
t with a 2 = 4.10 (df = 3; p = 0.25) and an RMSEA of 0.03 (90%
CI = 0.00 to 0.10). The CFI and TLI values were above 0.95 (CFI =
0.99; TLI = 0.99).
Four organizational perceptions namely organizational justice,
organizational support, overload and job importance are negatively related to thinking of a new job and predictive of decreasing the degree of
intent: thinking of a new job. The higher the value of perceptions of
agency climate, respondents are less likely to think about a new job.
The most predictive factors of decreasing the degree of intent to leave
are being organizational justice ( 0.34) followed by organizational
support (0.20). The less predictive factors are overload (0.18) and
job importance ( 0.14) while autonomy and job challenge though
were in the original model were not found to be predictive of decreasing
the intent when it comes to thinking of a new job in the re-specied
current model.
4.2.5. Perceptions of agency climate and looking
Once again, the six factors with more than 0.60 factor loadings included in the model. The nal re-specied SEM model has two factors
namely, support and overload with 0.32 and 0.29 coefcient values
respectively (p b 0.05). As shown in Fig. 4 two exogenous factors
overload and support had the best t with a 2 = 4.65 (df = 4; p =
0.32) and an RMSEA of 0.02 (90% CI = 0.00 to 0.09). The CFI and TLI
values were above 0.95 (CFI = 0.99; TLI = 0.99).

Fig. 5. Standardized estimates in structural model relating to perceptions of agency climate to acting. 2 = 6.00, df = 4, p = 0.19; RMSEA = 0.04; CFI = 0.99; TLI = 0.98.

86

G.M. Fernandes / Children and Youth Services Review 60 (2016) 8087

When it comes to perceptions of agency climate and looking for a


new job, organizational support ( 0.32) and overload (0.29) were
negatively related to looking for a new job and most predictive of decreasing the intent of looking for a new job in the past year while organizational justice and job importance no longer remained predictive of
decreasing the intent to look for a new job unlike thinking of a new job.
4.2.6. Perceptions of agency climate and acting
Of the six factors included in the SEM model, the coefcient values
ranged from 0.13 (importance) to 0.26 (support) with p b 0.05. Support
is more likely to be associated with taking action with regard to a new
job in the past year when compared to importance. The model was respecied until a best-t-model was obtained. As shown in Fig. 5, respecied best-t model with two exogenous factors importance and
support had the best t with a 2 = 6.00 (df = 4; p = 0.19) and an
RMSEA of 0.04 (90% CI = 0.00 to 0.10). Both CFI and TLI values were
above 0.95 (CFI = 0.99; TLI = 0.98).
Organizational support (0.17), job importance (0.13) and organizational justice (0.12) were negatively related to taking actions related to a new job and predictive of decreasing the degree of intent:
taking actions like number of phone inquiries made about other jobs,
number of resumes sent for other jobs and number of interviews
given for other jobs.
5. Conclusions and discussion
This study examined whether child welfare workers' perceptions of
agency climate inuenced their degree of intent to leave the job using
data from an on-going study of 359 voluntary child welfare workers in
New York State and a Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) approach.
Overall, 205 (57%) of the respondents reported that they thought of
leaving the job in the past year. SEM analyses revealed that the four factors of Organizational climate were predictive of decreasing the intent
to leave the job.
Specically, bivariate analyses indicated that there were signicant
differences between those who looked for a new job and those who
did not look for a new job in the sample. Those who looked for a new
job had less positive perceptions of agency climate than those who did
not look for a new job, especially in three aspects: organizational support, overload and organizational justice.
The SEM analyses indicate that child welfare workers' perceptions
on four organizational climate aspects were predictive of decreasing
the intent to leave the job, including perceptions on organizational
justice which was the most predictive factor for thinking of a new job,
followed by organizational support, overload, and job importance.
Whereas, organizational support was predictive of thinking, looking
and taking actions related to a new job.
This study has two important limitations. First, this is a crosssectional study and the data were collected during the recent nancial
recession in the nation, so those not intending to leave their job could
have been inuenced by the high unemployment rate. Furthermore,
this is a cross-sectional study, and workers' perception of agency climate and intent to leave the agency may change over the years and
under a difcult situation. Unfortunately, there is no longitudinal data
to address this concern.
Despite these limitations, the ndings from this study suggest several important lessons. First and foremost, organizational support is one of
the common factors predictive of decreasing the degree of intent to
leave. As discussed earlier the lowest rated items measuring respondents' attitude toward multiple aspects of the organizational climate
were organizational support and organizational justice and the greatest
difference between those who looked for a new job and those who did
not look for a job was for organizational support followed by organizational justice. Also consistent with these ndings, different dimensions
of organizational social support are related to either retention or turnover; professional support (Ellett, Ellett, & Rugutt, 2003), perception of

administrative support (Ellett, 2000) and support from others at work


(Dickinson & Perry, 2002). Though there is evidence that workers,
clients, and organizations benet from supportive environment, one of
the major challenges for human service agencies continue to be low
organizational support (Hopkins & Hyde, 2001; Latting & Blanchard,
1997) which could be a signicant predictor of service quality
(Hopkins, 2002) and a stable workforce.
In light of the signicant turnover problem in child welfare, workforce strategies including effective recruitment, retention and training
practices, must be seen as levers of change in transforming systems of
care (President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health's,
2003). With the signicant and complex challenges of workforce turnover, the onus of building contingent rewards into organizational structure, and creating ways and means to improve organizational support is
a signicant responsibility of child welfare administrators and managers. Augsberger, Schudrich, McGowan, and Auerback (2012) pointed
out child welfare workers should receive professional respect, recognition and appreciation from supervisors and managers within the agency. Parker's study suggests that workers' opinions and well being are
also ways to support workers in an organization (Parker et al., 2003).
This could be done by developing strategies to improve organizational support by promotions, valuing their opinions, appreciating and
acknowledging their contribution to child welfare, giving time off for
studies and paying off child welfare workers' tuitions. This would not
only increase organizational support and satisfaction with contingent
rewards but also strengthen their commitment to child welfare and to
social work, and save the nation the cost of frequent recruiting, hiring
and training new workers in the face of high turnover in child welfare
agencies.

References
Abelson, M.A., & Baysinger, B.D. (1984). Optimal and dysfunctional turnover: Toward an
organizational level model. Academy of Management Review, 9(2), 331341.
Auerbach, C., McGowan, B.G., Augsberger, A., Strolin-Goltzman, J., & Schudrich, W. (2010).
Differential factors inuencing public and voluntary child welfare workers' intention
to leave. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 13961402.
Auerbach, C., Schudrich, W.Z., Lawrence, C.K., Claiborne, N., & McGowan, B.G. (2014).
Predicting turnover: Validating the Intent to Leave Child Welfare Scale. Research On
Social Work Practice, 24(3), 349355.
Augsberger, A., Schudrich, W., McGowan, B.G., & Auerback, C. (2012). Respect in the
workplace: A mixed methods study of retention and turnover in the voluntary
child welfare sector. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(7), 12221229.
Balfour, D.L., & Neff, D.M. (1993). Predicting and managing turnover in Human Service
Agencies: A case study of an organization in crisis.. Public Personnel Management,
22(3), 473486.
Bednar, S. (2003). Elements of satisfying organizational climates in child welfare agencies.
Families in Society, 84(1), 712.
Bollen, K. (1989). Structural equations with latent variables. Oxford England: John Wiley &
sons.
Brown, S.P., & Leigh, T.W. (1996). A newlook at psychological climate and its relationship
to job involvement, effort, and performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81,
358368.
Claiborne, N., Auerbach, C., Lawrence, C., Liu, J., McGowan, B.G., Fernandes, G., & Magnano,
J. (2011). Child welfare agency climate inuence on worker commitment. Children
and Youth Services Review, 33(11), 20962102.
Cyphers, G. (2001). Report from the child welfare workforce survey: State and county data
and ndings. Washington, DC: American Public Human Services Association
(Retrieved from www.aphsa.org/policy/Doc/cwwsurvey.pdf).
DePanlis, D., & Zlotnik, J.L. (2008). Retention of front-line staff in child welfare: A
systematic review of research. Children and Youth Services Review, 30(9), 9951008.
Dickinson, N., & Perry, R.E. (2002). Factors inuencing the retention of specially educated
public child welfare workers. Journal of Health and Social Policy, 15(3/4), 89104.
Ellett, A. J. (2000). Human caring, self-efcacy beliefs and professional organizational culture correlates of employee retention in child welfare. Louisiana State University,
Baton Rouge, LA: Unpublished doctoral dissertation.
Ellett, A., Ellett, C., & Rugutt, J. (2003). A study of personal and organizational factors
contributing to employee retention and turnover in child welfare in Georgia. Athens,
GA: University of Georgia School of Social Work.
Glisson, C. (2000). Organizational culture and climate. In R. Patti (Ed.), The handbook of
social welfare management (pp. 195218). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Glisson, C. (2010). Organizational climate and service outcomes in child welfare settings.
In M.B. Webb, K.L. Dowd, B.J. Harden, J. Landsverk, & M. Testa (Eds.), Child welfare and
child well-being: New perspectives from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent
Well-being. New York: Oxford University Press.

G.M. Fernandes / Children and Youth Services Review 60 (2016) 8087


Glisson, C., & Green, P. (2006). The effects of organizational culture and climate on the
access to mental health care in child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research,
33(4), 433448.
Glisson, C., & Green, P. (2011). Organizational climate, services, and outcomes in child
welfare. Child Abuse & Neglect, 35(2011), 582591.
Glisson, C., & James, L.R. (2002). The cross-level effects of culture and climate in human
service teams. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23, 767794.
Glisson, C., Dukes, D., & Green, P. (2006). The effects of the ARC organizational intervention on caseworker turnover, climate, and culture in children's service systems. Child
Abuse & Neglect, 30(8), 855880 (discussion 849854).
Hopkins, K., & Hyde, C. (2001). The human services managerial dilemma: New expectations, chronic challenges, and old solutions. Paper presented at the Annual ARNOVA
Conference, New Orleans, LA, November 19, 2000.
Hopkins, K.M. (2002). Organizational citizenship in social service agencies. Administration
in Social Work, 26(2).
Joreskog, K.G. (1993). Testing structural equation models. In K.A. Bollen, & J.S. Long (Eds.),
Testing structural equation models (pp. 294316). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Kline, R.B. (2005). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling (2nd ed.). New
York, NY: Guilford.
Kline, R.B. (2011). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling (3rd ed.). New
York, NY: Guilford Press.
Latting, J.K., & Blanchard, A. (1997). Empowering staff in a poverty agency: An organization development intervention. Journal of Community Practice, 4(3), 5975.
Manlove, E.E., & Guzell, J.R. (1997). Intention to leave, anticipated reasons for leaving, and
12-month turnover of child care center staff. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 12,
145167.
McGowan, B.G., Auerbach, C., Conroy, K., Augsberger, A., & Schudrich, W. (2010). Workforce retention issues in Voluntary Child Welfare. Child Welfare, 89(6), 83103.
McGowan, B., Auerbach, C., & Strolin-Goltzman, J.S. (2009). Turnover in the Child Welfare
Workforce: A different perspective. Journal of Service Research, 35(3), 228235.
Mor Barak, M.E., Nissly, J.A., & Levin, A. (2001). Antecedents to retention and turnover
among child welfare, social work, and other human service employees: What can
we learn from past research? A review and metanalysis. Social Service Review, 75,
625661.
MorBarak, M.E.M., Levin, A., Nissly, J.A., & Lane, C.J. (2006). Modeling child welfare
workers' turnover intentions. Children and Youth Services Review, 28(5), 548577.
Nissly, J.A., Mor Barak, M.E., & Levin, A. (2005). Stress, social support, and workers'
intentions to leave their jobs in public child welfare. Administration in Social Work,
29(1), 79100.
Parker, C.P., Baltes, B.B., Young, S.A., Huff, J.W., Altmann, R.A., Lacost, H.A., et al. (2003). Relationships between psychological climate perceptions and work outcomes: A metaanalytic review. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 24, 389416.
Powell, M.J., & York, R.O. (1992). Turnover in county public welfare agencies. Journal
ofApplied Social Sciences, 16(2), 111127.
President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health (2003). Achieving the promise:
Transforming mental health care in America. Final report (DHHS Pub. No SMA-033832). Rockville, MD: Author.

87

Price, J.L. (2004). The development of a causal model of voluntary turnover. In R. Griffeth,
& P. Hom (Eds.), Innovative theory and empirical research on employee turnover
(pp. 334). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
Rosenthal, J.A., & Waters, E. (2004). Retention and performance in public child welfare in
Oklahoma: Focus on the child welfare professional enhancement program graduates.
Paper presented at weaving resources for better child welfare outcomes conference. NM:
Santa Fe.
Ryan, J.P., Garnier, P., Zyphur, M., & Zhai, F. (2006). Investigating the effects of caseworker
characteristics in child welfare. Children and Youth Services Review, 28(9), 9931006.
Scannapieco, M., & Connell-Carrick, K. (2007). Child welfare workforce: The state of the
workforce and strategies to improve retention. Child Welfare, 86, 3152.
Schreiber, J.B., Stage, F., King, J., Nora, A., & Barlow, E.A. (2006). Reporting structural equation modeling and conrmatory analysis results: A review. The Journal of Educational
Research, 99(No.6).
Schudrich, W., Auerbach, C., Liu, J., Fernandes, G., McGowan, B., & Claiborne, N. (2012).
Factors impacting intention to leave in social workers and child care workers
employed at voluntary agencies. Children & Youth Services Review, 34(1), 8490.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.09.004.
Shim, M. (2010). Factors inuencing child welfare employee's turnover: Focusing on
organizational culture and climate. Children and Youth Services Review, 32(6),
847856.
Smith, B.D. (2005). Job retention in child welfare: Effects of perceived organizational
support, supervisor support, and intrinsic job value. Children and Youth Services
Review, 27(2), 153169.
StataCorp. (2011). Stata equation modeling reference manual: Release 12. College Station,
TX: Author.
Strolin, J.S., McCarthy, M., & Caringi, J. (2007). Causes and effects of child welfare workforce turnover: Current state of knowledge and future directions. Journal of Public
Child Welfare, 1(2), 2954.
Strolin-Goltzman, J., Auerbach, C., McGowan, B.G., & McCarthy, M.L. (2008). The relationship between organizational characteristics and workforce turnover among rural,
urban, and suburban public child welfare systems. Administration in Social Work,
32(1), 7791.
Tham, P. (2007). Why are they leaving? Factors affecting intention to leave among social
workers in child welfare. British Journal of Social Work, 37(7), 12251246.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS] (2008). About the children's
bureau http://www.acf.hhs.gov/proograms/aboutcb/about_htm
U.S. General Accounting Ofce (2003). Child welfare: HHS could play a greater role in
helping child welfare agencies recruit and retain staff [GAO-03-357]. Washington DC:
Author.
Vandenberg, R.J., & Barnes Nelson, J. (1999). Disaggregating the motives underlying
turnover intentions: When do intentions predict turnover behavior? Human
Relations, 52(10), 13131336.