Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Mirna Carranza




Child welfare is stressful and child protection workers have the enormous responsibility to protect societies most vulnerable. Stress, trauma and burnout are serious issues affecting front-line child welfare workers and are not adequately being addressed. The enormously high tum over rate of child protection workers is seriously impacting the client worker relationship, case decisions, and time management. As a result of these high turnover rates work experience has often been in short supply (Howe et al., 1999; Regehr et al., 2000; Regehr, Hemsworth, Leslie, Howe & Chau, 2004; and Littlechild 2005).

The purpose of this study was to find out more about the experiences and perceptions of front-line child protection workers as they deal with work related stressors from a social justice perspective. More specifically this study explored whether or not there was a difference in the way that new front-line child protection workers versus experienced front-line child protection workers experience and cope with stress, trauma and burnout.

It was clear that participants felt frustrated about the issues of stress, trauma and burnout and many participants expressed anger about some of the situations they have endured.

New workers were clear that they require more support and positive feedback. It was important for this group to have a sense of working collaboratively in the decision making process, rather than their work being micromanaged. The new worker group also wanted to know that their health, their personal lives, their families and their children are important to their employer and that the job cannot always come first.

The experienced workers were clear that they wanted yearly evaluations and more of a connection to upper management; specifically they wanted more communication from upper management. This group also wanted to be known, and to feel like appreciated and valuable members within the agency.

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