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School of Social Welfare

The Kansas Workforce Initiative is a five year project funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau. The purpose of the initiative is to create a stable, prepared and supported workforce to improve the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families in Kansas.
In Kansas, the average child welfare professional stays in the field for two years, while the average supervisor only stays three years. Researchers at the University of Kansas are working to find out why turnover is so prevalent in what can be a challenging, stressful line of work and help stabilize the workforce, which will help provide better service to families.
Researchers tackle turnover in child welfare staffing

A Realistic Job Preview of Kansas Child Welfare
"KU Media Productions plays a roll in our initiative by providing a very nice documentary piece that lets undergrad students hear about the work they are about to pursue." says Alice Lieberman, professor of social welfare at the KU School of Social Welfare.

Supervisor Skills

“A great deal of evidence exists to support the tremendous importance of really good supervision in retaining social workers in child welfare agencies,” Lieberman said. “This is important because families do better when they can remain with the same worker. Thus, anything that we can add to supervisory skills matters most — and the means to deliver those skills, via training — is ultimately going to impact the well-being of families and kids in a very significant way," says Lieberman.

The researchers have developed a series of videos detailing the three most important things supervisors can do to keep child welfare workers on the job. The Kansas Workforce Initiative videos cover task assistance, social and emotional support, and interpersonal interaction. Each roughly five-minute video addresses ways in which a supervisor can assist workers in dealing with difficult parts of their job, whether it be working with parents who have had children removed from the home, adoption or other family services. "With the high rate of turnover in the field, people often are promoted to supervisory roles without any previous training. New supervisors are often promoted from the ranks and can be unprepared for their new role,"says Michelle Levy, research associate at the KU School of Social Welfare.

Working with staff to develop policies and practices can be challenging for supervisors. The following scenario was developed to begin the conversation during supervisor training about what to consider and what to avoid when working with staff.


"The use of video has really stepped up our efforts to convey what students need to know in order to pursue a career in social welfare. Once in the field, our supervisor video series is helping workers to keep cohesion within their teams," says Levy. "I anticipate we will continue to add to our YouTube Channel in the future."

The Kansas Workforce Initiative has invited partners into the process by having organizations create a YouTube presence on their website. "By having partners subscribe to our YouTube and by subscribing to theirs, we end up having a very efficient way of sharing our content with social workers around the entire state. Not only do we get more exposure, but we also get access to their content as well, so now we no longer have just our library of video materials, but access to their library of like content as well," says Levy.

A Day in the Life of a Social Worker

The two projects above offer examples of documentary and training styles of delivery. Lieberman and Levy were also interested in a "first person narrative." Their goal was a set of video blogs that a prospective social worker could view to get an idea of a day in the life of a social worker. Six videos portray the different types of work commonly found in the socil work field. The videos paired with a week at a glance calendar allow viewers to get a sense of the weekly of a social worker.The videos are also accompanied with a Frequently Asked Questions section to further the prospective social workers' understanding of the field.
It is recommended that you watch the video below in 720p quality to enjoy the higher quality graphics. Look for the quality setting cog at the bottom right of the player. More...  



KU Media Productions has enjoyed helping the School of Social Welfare in providing information to prospective students in order to help them make an informed decision about entering the field. We are also glad to enhance the training opportunities for supervisors through the use of video. For more information on how to incorporate video elements into your project contact Jim Jewell at 785-864-7849.

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