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Retaining Novices to Become Expert Child Protection Practitioners: Creating Career Pathways in Direct Practice

Karen Healy, Gabrielle Meagher and Joel Cullin
The British Journal of Social Work
Vol. 39, No. 2 (2009), pp. 299-317
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23724700
Page Count: 19
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Retaining Novices to Become Expert Child Protection Practitioners: Creating Career Pathways in Direct Practice
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Abstract

In many post-industrial countries, concerns have been raised about high turnover of professional staff and the high proportion of novice practitioners on the frontline in child protection agencies. High turnover imposes costs on individual practitioners, employing organizations, service users (particularly vulnerable children) and society more broadly. We analyze the views of employers, policy makers and researchers in Australia, England and Sweden about factors contributing to high turnover at the frontline. We find that a combination of retention disincentives (push factors) and alternative career opportunities (pull factors) contributes to high turnover among frontline practitioners. Based on these findings, we propose a strategy for enhancing workforce retention at the frontline in child protection. The strategy involves creation of a career pathway that enables, and encourages, novice child protection workers to become advanced practitioners.

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