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The child welfare workforce assists children and families involved in, or at risk of entering, the child welfare system. It works to ensure that children and youth who are at risk of being abused and neglected are kept safe through in-home services, and helps find safe permanent homes for children and youth who have been abused and neglected and require out-of-home care. These include efforts to reunify the child with his or her family, or to find a new permanent home through guardianship or adoption.
However, high caseloads and workloads often leave caseworkers with insufficient time and resources to provide the quality, individualized services that children and families in the child welfare system need. When the child welfare workforce is unable to devote sufficient time to meeting the needs of children and families, poor relationships between workers and families, reentry of children into foster care, and safety concerns can result. The staff is also less able to appropriately monitor children in care or address allegations of neglect or maltreatment.
Child welfare workers need to be trained on how to deal with the complex needs of families in crisis, and many are unfortunately undereducated and not prepared for the situations they have to face while working in the child welfare system.
We cannot expect to adequately care for our most vulnerable children and youth without supporting the professionals who work to protect them. We need to ensure that those working with children in the child welfare system are receiving the proper education, resources, supervision, training and support they need to help these children and families.