Key Processes

Data Collection and Analysis

Child welfare agencies must collect and analyze data credibly and translate their findings into 

information that guides planning, dictates program change and supports funding requests. Although

agencies may, at times, lack the full range of data that would be ideal, all agencies have some data that

can be useful in planning. The same data can be used for various tasks. It can be managed and analyzed

in different ways for different purposes. Extreme caution needs to be exercised when using less­than­ perfect

data.  It is imperative that agencies be explicit about the limits of their data.  At a minimum, child 

welfare agencies shouldcollect data and get answers to questions on the following subject  areas:


Client Needs

In the environmental scan, the agency collected data on who its clients are and their current and 

future needs. Analysis of these findings can help determine which interventions work best with a

particular population, under what set of circumstances and why, and ultimately what knowledge, skills

and abilities are needed in the workforce. Program decisions require review of staffing patterns.  The

agency must use this information to staff and deploy its workforce and use resources effectively and

efficiently to meet client needs.


Current Status of Workforce Available to Meet the Needs of the Clients

The number and type of workers an agency needs should be determined by clients’ current and 

projected needs. Planners should gather baseline data regarding the agency’s workforce operational capacity to determine current and future staffing levels and configurations and to  measure  productivity.

Example: The agency needs to gather information about the knowledge, skills, ability, education and 

experience of its staff to identify the numbers and type of additional staff and other resources 

needed to provide effective services to its client population.

An accurate determination of an agency’s workforce needs requires estimation or measurement and 

analysis of the following:

  • The agency’s productivity levels (provided it is adequately staffed given the current and project demand for client services.)
  • Staff retention patterns including vacancies, turnover rates and characteristics of the workforce. 
  • Example: An aging workforce suggests anticipated retirements.
  • The time a worker has available to serve agency clients in a month or a year and in a manner that meets established agency practice standards.
  • The impact practice or policy changes have on the workload of existing staff.
  • Example: Changes in practice that screen in more child protective service investigations or increase the worker­client contact requirements will increase the workload of workers. Documentation, reporting and federal regulations such as the caseworker face­to­face contact with children in foster care requirement, also have direct impacts on workload.


Labor Market

Child welfare agencies need to know what the candidate pool looks like to determine what the 

options may be if the labor market does not have candidates the agency considers ideal. It is critical that the practice model service standard not be compromised. The agency has the responsibility to take action as necessary 

to develop and attract the ideal candidates. To consider alternatives and make decisions, agencies 

will need to gather data and analyze the labor market to understand its relation to:

  • Labor force trends and shortages.  Note:  While much of the emphasis is on front­line workers, labor force trends   and shortages are equally important for technical and professional staff in administrative functions (IT, fiscal, legal, etc.).
  • The demographic characteristic of the candidates. What attributes, knowledge, skills, abilities and educational levels are available in the job market for every position in the  agency?
  • Competition in the job market including local salary differentials, specific compensations and benefit packages and professional  growth opportunities.
  • Economic conditions including geographic wage differentials, unemployment and community resources.

Example: High unemployment and tight labor markets could make more people available for employment, 

but not necessarily the ideal candidates. Economic downturns could also increase the numbers of the 

client population and  cause an increase in workload. Potential candidates may consider leaving 

the area for higher wages, more reasonable workload or other employment opportunities.


Budget Obligations and Statutory Requirments

Budgets can pose both opportunities and systemic barriers. Aligning workforce planning with 

the budget process is essential for setting realistic workforce goals and initiatives. Budget allocations impact the number and type of staff that may be hired, the scope of resources that can be accessed through community resources 

and contracts, and the size of the agency’s support and administrative staff, as well as non 

personnel  resources.


Statutory requirements and commitments force choices that impact budget allocations and program 

selection. It is essential that agencies determine the workforce capacity they need to support 

credible practice and meet statutory service obligation. It is important to collect information on 

the potential impact on clients that insufficient staff (both in number and skill    sets) will 

have. Credible data can also be used to demonstrate the need for non­personnel resources (cars, cell 

phones, information technology, etc.) that the workforce requires to conduct its work safely and  effectively.


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