Professional quality of life and intent to leave the workforce: Gender disparities in child welfare

Stephanie Grace Prost & Jennifer S. Middleton - Child Abuse & Neglect



Efforts to enhance professional quality of life (ProQOL) may prove a promising area for intervention to reducing workforce jettison and maintaining a healthy and resilient workforce necessary for supporting children and families in the child welfare system.


The current study aimed to describe the relative contributions of measures of ProQOL to intent on leaving the workforce among child welfare professionals. We also aimed to describe gender differences in ProQOL, intent to leave, and associated correlations among child welfare professionals. Such an investigation is a critical extension of earlier efforts as women constitute a markedly larger proportion of the workforce compared to men and evidence exists pointing to gender disparities in helping professionals’ work experiences.

Participants and setting

Secondary data were used from a survey of child welfare professionals across five sites.


Univariate and bivariate statistics, hierarchical linear regression, and associated z-scores and p-values were used to meet the aforementioned aims.


Burnout accounted for the greatest variation in intent to leave among all professionals. However, gender disparities were found for all ProQOL measures with the largest difference observed for burnout, an effect more pronounced in males. Compassion satisfaction was significantly higher among females.


Burnout shapes intentions to leave for child welfare professionals; however, the effects of emotional exhaustion and hopelessness are stronger predictors of turnover among male than females in the current sample. Organizational strategies to reduce burnout and future research directions are discussed.