Episode 279 - Dr. Ashley Curry: "I Don't Want a New Worker. Where's My Old Worker?": Relationship Disruptions Between Youth and Child Welfare Professionals

Friday, January 24, 2020, 12:21:24 PM

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In this episode, our guest Dr. Ashley Curry discusses her research exploring turnover within the child welfare system and the lived experiences of individuals impacted by relationship disruptions. Originating from a multi-method qualitative approach, Dr. Curry’s findings highlight the perspectives of three distinct groups experiencing turnover within a child welfare organization: specifically, agency administrators, agency workers, and youth receiving care. Key implications and recommendations for child welfare organizations undergoing worker turnover and staffing changes are considered.

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Average Rating: 4.9 stars (7 listener reviews )

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Average Rating: 5stars  so excellent it made me mad, Saturday, February 22, 2020

By Jill Meyer :

I highly admire Dr. Curry for persevering even though her study went in a completely different direction than what she had planned for. Adapting to new situations is a crucial part of working in the social work field and I can only imagine how frustrating and disorienting that might have been at first, but I respect that she was open to this new opportunity to study how turnover affected relationships between workers and youth clients. I felt myself getting frustrated with the agency for not recognizing just how many staffing changes had occurred and considering how that would affect relationships between coworkers, staff members, and client-worker relationships. I felt angry but also sad when Dr. Curry spoke about how the youth relationships with their respective workers were not valued as much by the agency as I thought they should have been. I don't think that this agency was employing the trauma-informed approach in practice that is promoted here at UB. I recognize that this "survival-mode" that Dr. Curry mentions the agency was experiencing played a role in how the agency responded to issues such as underestimating turnover rates and how those rates would impact clients' emotional well-being, but I sympathized with the clients who placed so much value on their relationship with their caseworker and the act of minimizing the importance of that relationship by the agency makes me angry and sad. I have undergone instability in relationships with therapists in the past as they have either fallen ill to the point where they could not work, they shifted rotation to a different clinic, or they left for parental leave. This podcast has sparked my interest and I will be looking for more research conducted by Dr. Curry in the future.

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Average Rating: 4stars  dr. ashley curry podcast review, Monday, February 17, 2020

By Marie :

Dr. Ashley Curry's research is very eye-opening. The podcast was informative, as well as clear. it not only presented the problem but gave options for how to address the issue. I believe, it was known that turnover affected the relationship, but the severity of its effect on the relationship was new and educating. overall this was a great podcast.

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Average Rating: 5stars  high turnover with child welfare professionals, Monday, February 10, 2020

By Sukhman :

It is incredibly important to conserve the client-worker relationship. This is especially important with client populations that include children and youth.
The study found a great amount of lateral turnover and organizational disruption within the child welfare system. Lateral turnover was thought to not cause as much disruption to the organizations/agencies, however clients found this to be as unsettling as traditional turnover.
A lot of the observational data was created within the study, mostly composed by audio recordings. Yet, confidentiality was still guaranteed to the agency participating within the study. I think this important to highlight as ensuring the agency stay confidential helps to make sure that future agencies are willing to participate in these studies. Ensuring that agencies participate is how social workers can continue to make progress on agency organization and methodology. In this particular case, the agency was in what they referred to as "organizational chaos".
Administrators would downplay these changes and were not in tune with the feedback they were getting from the youth. The youth within the program were conscious of the fact that their relationships with their staff and workers were ending, in the fact that workers were being moved and they would no longer be seeing each other.
It is every workers intention to have their client's best interest at heart. However, with so many administration changes such as the one in the study, it is difficult maintain the client-worker relationship. Even though the administration felt as though lateral turnover would be beneficial and would not leave the youth feeling abandoned; the youth communicated the opposite. The most important conclusion from the study is that it is important for us to rely on and request the suggestions/ feedback from clients. After all it is our job to help them; therefore we should work directly with them and hear their perspective on things.

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Average Rating: 5stars  research identifies missed opportunities, Sunday, February 09, 2020

By Hannah Holden :

This podcast is informative is several major areas. One, it highlights a blindspot in the vision of administrators at a child welfare agency. Two, it identifies two major missed opportunities in best serving independent living youth.

In the podcast, Dr. Curry describes her research on the effects of changes in staff relationships between child welfare workers and the Independent Living youth they serve. She did observational research on a local child welfare agency over a two-year period to examine the effect of changes in worker on the young people served by the agency. She happened to begin her research around the time of a large-scale reorganization of the department, which included layoffs and staffing transitions.

She found that while the agency made a distinction between “lateral” and “Traditional” turnover. Traditional turnover would be when a worker exits the agency completely, while “lateral” turnover is when the worker on a case is shifted to a different caseload, while remaining at the agency. She found that administrators and workers downplayed the impact of lateral turnover on the youth being served, and therefore didn’t adequately assist the youth with processing those changes.

In doing so, Dr. Curry identified a blind spot in the agency administration, in that they thought turnover was not a major issue in their organization. Instead, it was happening much more frequently than they realized, 62+% of the time at a minimum.

The two major missed opportunities on the part of administrators are: one, to reduce staff/case assignment changes to the very minimum; and two., to encourage staff to process utilize skills and interventions to help the youth process the feelings and emotions that the unavoidable transfers evoke in them.

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Average Rating: 5stars  disruption, Monday, February 03, 2020

By Erin :

As I am currently placed at an agency where in-home behavior intervention is my role, I really enjoyed and appreciated the perspective from this episode.
Being that the primary purpose of the FSS department that I work in within the agency is to visit the client’s homes and continue to build upon conversations and the rapport from previous visits, turnover and relationship disruptions can be detrimental.
While this is something I was aware of, and have even personally experienced as a worker, it was really interesting and important to hear about Dr. Curry’s study and its findings. What I found additionally interesting was the rate of turnover that Dr. Curry calculated for the period of time the study was being conducted. It can be difficult to put the actual rate and percentage into perspective, especially when transitions between workers are smooth and don’t cause noticeable gaps in service.
I am in a position in my agency where I am actually in the process of taking on more cases because of a staff member leaving, so I have bookmarked this episode as it had a lot of really important points that I want to keep in mind going forward in my practice.

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Average Rating: 5stars  the importance of relationships , Monday, February 03, 2020

By Tamasha H :

This is an important subject because every relationship is important between child welfare professionals and the youth. It can have a huge impact on their lives as they grow.
It’s important to consider how attachment works between workers and their clients. Children are more likely to get attached quickly especially if the relationship is going well and so when the worker leaves or gets changed for any specific reason, it can be difficult for them to start building another relationship. I think it feels like starting all over again which may seem like extra work. Dr. Curry made amazing points and one of them she stated how “workers think that their clients don’t view the relationship that they have as important” or vice versa and so when it comes to the point where it has to end, they make the mistake of not ending it well. It could be such as ending it over the phone, in the car, facetime, etc. The worker might be the first person they ever trusted or the only support system they have and so when he/she leaves especially without ending it well, it may be unhealthy for their mental health.

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Average Rating: 5stars  how turn over rates affect both workers and clients, Monday, February 03, 2020

By Jackie :

I found this podcast very insightful. I specifically want to work with children so that is why I was drawn to this particular podcast. I found this podcast interesting because as a social work student, I study and learn about the importance of building relationships with clients. It is no secret that building rapport takes time, and needs trust- especially when interacting with children and adolescents who may be in vulnerable situations. It is understandable how it can be stressful to these young clients who are upset that their professional counselor or worker leaves their case. Agencies and workers should be more in touch with how changes within the agency directly affect the clients. Of course, it is important to maintain the needs of the agency and more staff when needed, but the core mission of the agency is to care for clients. In order to completely care for their clients, agencies should create permanent positions for staff members who work directly with clients- this way, both clients and workers do not become stressed or upset from the abrupt change in their interactions. Like Dr. Curry stated, high turnover rates cause unnecessary stress to all individuals involved. I’m glad Dr. Curry focused on this area and shed light on this topic; especially since it is so underlooked.

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