The Unsolved Challenge of System Reform

The Condition of the Frontline Human Services Workforce

By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

March 14, 2003

Summary

Children do well when their families do well and families do well when the social support structures around them are stable and strong. For the vulnerable children the Casey Foundation is dedicated to helping, frontline workers are a critical link to social services they badly need and to opportunities for a better life. Yet the frontline human services workforce currently in place offers neither strength nor stability. Kids are being let down and the structures set up to support them are doing more harm than good, while they waste millions of taxpayer dollars.This vital role prompted Casey Foundation staff to conduct an in-depth exploration of job conditions on the frontlines for human service workers.The paper describes our findings on the demographics of the frontline human services workforce, discusses the challenges to the workforce and the issues that hold back improvements in service delivery. The report then outlines promising examples of reforms already under way and the Foundation’s next steps in addressing this issue and promoting reform.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

Defining the Human Services Workforce

The field of frontline human services delivery is so large and its challenges so overwhelming that policymakers might be inclined to choose or favor a few approaches to implement across the board, which only serves to obscure the deeper problems.

This chart captures Casey's first attempt at defining and surveying the human services workforce. 

Findings & Stats

Statements & Quotations