Campus Location

Abilene Campus

Date of Award

Summer 7-21-2016

Document Type



Social Work

Degree Name

Master of Science in Social Work

Committee Chair

Wayne Paris

Second Committee Member

Amy Kalb


Working in child welfare is a career that frequently exposes staff to trauma. Child welfare staff routinely witness the worst types of harm to children including extreme physical abuse, drug exposed children, children who have been repeatedly sexually abused, and even child fatalities. The impact of these repeated exposures is an emerging area of study. The effect of witnessing trauma is often referred to as compassion fatigue or secondary trauma. The focus of this study is to review current literature that deals with the issues of compassion fatigue in child welfare staff and compare the findings in hopes of identifying reoccurring recommendations and identifying areas for future research. This systematic review examines five previously published studies on compassion fatigue, burnout, and secondary trauma in child welfare. This study resumes where a previous study by McFadden, Campbell, and Taylor concluded. Of the five studies included in this review, there were no new findings. The findings of each study were aligned, not only with each other but also with a previous review conducted by McFadden, Campbell, and Taylor and one by West, both conducted in 2015. It does not appear that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has taken note of the problem of compassion fatigue and how it effects staff. This failure to respond to the problem has resulted in numerous problems for the agency, including the recent staffing crisis, the decision to lower the requirements for new hires within the agency, and the Children's Right Lawsuit and subsequent ruling against the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. If agencies are going to be successful at having healthy workers caring for children then the issue of compassion fatigue must be addressed, and soon.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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