Self-Efficacy in Newly-Hired Child Welfare Workers


  • Donna Cherry East Tennessee State University
  • Bruce Dalton East Tennessee State University
  • Angela Dugan East Tennessee State University



Child welfare, self-efficacy, Title IV-E


Child abuse and neglect in the United States resulted in 676,569 reports in 2011 (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 2012). Workers in this field struggle with low pay, high caseloads, inadequate training and supervision, and risk of violence, all of which contribute to worker burnout and poor worker retention rates. Worker self-efficacy is predictive of worker retention, job performance, and persistence in this difficult field. This paper reports the development of a new measure of self-efficacy from a sample of 395 child welfare workers. Factor analysis revealed two domains of self-efficacy, direct practice and indirect practice, which can be modestly predicted by worker characteristics upon hire and the training program the workers attend. Worker self-efficacy can be used to identify vulnerable workers who may be especially in need of strong supervisory support as well as understand who to target for recruitment. A review of the literature of self-efficacy in child welfare workers is included.

Author Biographies

Donna Cherry, East Tennessee State University

Assistant Professor Department of Social Work

Bruce Dalton, East Tennessee State University

Associate Professor Department of Social Work

Angela Dugan, East Tennessee State University

Doctorate Fellow in Early Childhood Education