Securing permanent homes for foster kids, easing the workload on child welfare social workers, and nurturing the connection between kids and their families are just a few of the improvements in the Santa Barbara County Welfare Services Department.
On Tuesday, the Department of Social Services is presenting its fourth annual update on Santa Barbara County Child Welfare Services to the Board of Supervisors. The 105-page report details statistical progress and new efforts to increase the quality of life for foster kids, their families, and the social workers that help them.
Permanency — which is defined as the child either being reunited with their family, being adopted, or getting guardianship — has gone up. According to 2018 data, 62 out of the 175 children in foster care found permanency within 12 months. This is up from the 61 out of 186 children who found it in the 2017 data.
“A number of factors are contributing to this success,” the report states, “including the use of Safety Organized Practice, increased focus on quality engagement of families, improved communication with the Juvenile Court partners, and improved visitation practices.”
The report also focused on social workers and other welfare staff’s happiness at work. The objective is to “develop a trauma-informed workplace and staff retention and recruitment strategies, where staff wellness and satisfaction lead to a stable and competent workforce.” According to the report, child welfare workers experience “burnout” and leave their jobs at a higher rate than other helping professions.
Attrition rates are lowering for those working for County Welfare Services, though. The 2017-2018 fiscal year attrition rate average for social workers was 13.43 percent, which improved to 11 percent this past 2018-2019 fiscal year.
The Board of Supervisors will hear the report in full Tuesday, January 14, at 9:30 a.m., in the County Administration Room, 105 E Anapamu Street.