Amanda Downing

Righting The Ship: Purposeful Ideas to Aid Child Welfare Organizations in Supporting Staff Longevity


High turnover and burnout are well known in the child welfare sphere. These have plagued the profession making the ability to retain qualified staff difficult. The goal in child welfare is to ensure children reside in safe homes, but it is impossible if not for the compassionate and qualified staff. To ensure safe homes for children, staff are often required to be in situations that can be traumatic. Therefore, considering organizational-based solutions is necessary for staff preservation. To aid in safeguarding qualified staff, this presentation examines organizational factors and their impact on prevalent rates of turnover and STS levels among child welfare staff. In addition to examining contributing organizational factors, this presentation contains a promising organizational-based theoretical framework rooted in ecosystems and humanism, along with a mindful-based program aimed at countering the current existing factors. These solution-focused ideas can lead to positive organizational impacts for staff and therefore stabilize retention.


Amanda Downing is currently a doctoral student at the University of Kentucky. As of May 2023, Ms. Downing has a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Kentucky. Prior to entering the social work field, Ms. Downing graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in Political Science. Currently, Ms. Downing volunteers as the Director of Survivor Services for an all-volunteer non-profit organization, Night Owl Reconnaissance. The organization assists in locating missing persons over the age of 18. Recently, Ms. Downing was the Social Services Director with the Council on Aging of West Florida. This non-profit agency focuses on providing in-home services for the gerontological community to assist individuals with aging in place.

Ms. Downing’s current research interests lie within the child welfare community. Specifically, Ms. Downing focuses on addressing secondary traumatic stress levels within child welfare organizations and emphasizing an organizational responsibility to aid in staff well-being. Ms. Downing is also interested in supporting foster youth alum in attaining their post-secondary educational opportunities. Outside of child welfare, Ms. Downing is interested in the impacts Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) have on marginalized and vulnerable populations.

Ms. Downing has published a Letter to the Editor in the Social Work Today magazine. This letter is a call to action to bring more awareness of gun violence to the social work community. Ms. Downing anticipates engaging in future publications on the impacts of organization culture and gun violence on marginalized and vulnerable populations through a social work lens.