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PCSAO partners with Ohio State on children services workforce crisis

PCSAO partners with Ohio State on children services workforce crisis

PCSAO today announced a partnership with The Ohio State University College of Social Work to identify successful caseworker recruitment and retention strategies for county children services agencies struggling to stabilize their workforce.

Turnover continued to cripple children services agencies prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Angela Sausser, PCSAO’s executive director. “It’s a pivotal time for Ohio’s children services system, with federal Family First Act and state policy changes going into effect this year aimed at transforming the system,” Sausser said. “However, transforming a system without a stable, experienced workforce will only bring failure. Ohio must get this right, which is why we are excited to partner with Ohio State to research successful strategies used in other states and comparable fields that could yield positive results for county agencies and the state.”

College of Social Work researcher and doctoral candidate Rebecca Phillips (pictured, left) is leading the project, joined by department co-investigators Dr. Alicia Bunger and PhD candidate and researcher Oliver W. J. Beer (pictured, right), a Research Fellow at The University of Plymouth (U.K.).

Project data collection will involve a review of successful strategies in other states along with surveys and focus groups of county agency staff. The project will culminate this fall in statewide workforce solution recommendations as well as a toolkit for county implementation. “As both a practitioner and academic, I have witnessed how important occupational health and wellbeing are to all levels of health and human services systems,” Phillips said. “I’m thrilled to be able to apply my experiences to addressing this critical issue of building a 21st century children services workforce within Ohio.”

Sausser pointed to statewide workforce solutions recently put in place by the administration. “Historic new investments in children services two years ago by Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly have helped stabilize the children services system, including a new rapid response team and technological training solutions,” Sausser said. “This project will complement that work by offering tangible ideas for addressing the workforce crisis in children services so that Ohio can successfully move forward with transformation.”