Kyuho Lee (postdoctoral researcher), Yuk Pang (Ph. D. candidate), Jo Ann Lee (PIAL outreach coordinator), and Janet Melby (CWRTP director) published their research in the Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership & Governance.
Their article, titled, “A Study of Adverse Childhood Experiences, Coping Strategies, Work Stress, and Self-Care in the Child Welfare Profession,” examines the negative influences of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on child welfare professionals’ work stress and coping strategies, as well as the challenges they face in self-care. ACEs experiences include verbal, physical, sexual abuse, and family dysfunction (e.g., an imprisoned, mentally ill, or substance-abusing family member; domestic violence; or absence of a parent because of divorce or separation). Prior research shows that the existence of any ACE can disrupt negative social, emotional, and cognitive development and contribute to adoption of health-risk behaviors.
The research team surveyed over 100 child welfare professionals about their stress levels and coping strategies, in addition to their ACE scores, which were found to be higher than the general population’s scores. Results also showed that stress levels were high and coping strategies were unhealthy. When combined with high ACE scores, this resulted in more work stress. These findings underscore the importance for child welfare professionals to be supported in dealing with their work-related stress.
This research was supported through the Service Training Contract between the Iowa Department of Human Services Service Training and the Iowa State University Child Welfare Research and Training Project.