CWLA’s National Blueprint for Excellence in Child Welfare indicates that leaders are responsible for creating environments that build and support the hardiness and resilience among employees, volunteers, and communities. Every employee, organization, and community warrants safety policies and procedures that establish measures for safe environments, internally and externally.

The safety of workers who work directly with children and families and in communities is a serious concern that impacts the child welfare workforce, where many employees and entities face threats, physical violence, harassment, intimidation, emotional abuse, and—for some—even death. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), part of the United States Department of Labor, states in its Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers that “members of the healthcare and social service professions are among those at the greatest risk for violence in the workplace.”

Those most at risk for workplace violence according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics are social service workers in the public sector. The reporting of violence/threats while on duty by social workers is a contributing factor to the high rate of turnover in the field. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Guidelines for Social Work Safety in the Workplace state that safety issues are a major barrier to recruitment and retention. To prevent or minimize workplace violence, entities can take precautions. OSHA recommends that a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence is the best protection.

Other organizations are putting in place policies, protocols, and training to address this issue as well. Read about Vermont’s Department for Children and Families’ implementation of safety policies below.