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New WKU collaboration aims to improve health and wellness among child welfare workers across state

Western Kentucky University’s College of Health and Human Services and the Center for Child Welfare Education and Research (CCWEAR) are pleased to announce the launch of the Kentucky Child Welfare Workforce Wellness Initiative (KCWWWI).

Child welfare workers make a positive difference in the lives of families and children. They are heroes and advocates. They are selfless professionals, and they often face significant job stress. Research has identified compassion fatigue, emotional exhaustion, and burnout as relevant challenges associated with working in child welfare, yet little is known about the actual health consequences associated with working in this position…and that is about to change.

The Kentucky Child Welfare Workforce Wellness Initiative (KCWWWI) is a grant-funded collaborative and interdisciplinary effort designed to improve the health and wellness of child welfare workers across all of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 8 Dimensions of Wellness. It leverages the resources and expertise of three partnering public agencies (Kentucky’s Department for Community Based Services, Western Kentucky University, and Lifeskills—southcentral Kentucky’s regional community mental health provider) to build an evidence-based model that is of national interest.

The research team consists of Western Kentucky University’s Dr. Austin Griffiths (Social Work), Dr. Kimberly Link (Nursing), and Dr. Kara Haughtigan (Nursing) and the first cohort will involve a sample of frontline public child welfare workers in southcentral Kentucky. After feedback and program refinement, the protocol will be relaunched with a new sample of child welfare workers in late 2021 in surrounding counties.

Key aspects of this innovative wellness initiative feature several evidence-based components designed to assist child welfare workers in improving their health, including the utilization of a mindfulness-based intervention delivered virtually and through live sessions. Further, the integration of advanced state-of-the-art biometric wearable health technology is used to measure the participant’s physiological response to stress, over time. This flexible, adaptable, and cost-effective exploratory intervention is agency supported and child welfare workers will be able to participate during work hours.

Team Kentucky is excited to launch the Kentucky Child Welfare Workforce Wellness Initiative and build a healthier workforce and a healthier community.

For more, visit www.wku.edu/childwelfare or follow us on social media @WKUChildWelfare.

From Western Kentucky University

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One Comment

  1. Parker Morgan says:

    Well I currently have a case open with a cabinet right now. And I’ve never even seen my caseworker. They say that they’re doing work from home because of covid restrictions and dangers. So this seems like a pretty odd time to start a research like this. In fact I was informed that being a counselor/case worker at the moment they’re not even required to view their clients face to face. So I’m unsure how any one would be able to gauge the well-being of one under their care when they’ve never seen their face. The corruption going on right now in the system is unbelievable and this is just another sign of that corruption. We should be spending money gauging the stress levels of the children that are being ripped out of their homes unjustly. Coming from someone with experience in the scenario. It needs to be reevaluated and quick the only outcome that’s coming from situations like mine are trauma and unnecessary removals.

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