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Compassion Fatigue Risk and Self-Care Practices Among Residential Treatment Center Childcare Workers

NCJ Number
Residential Treatment for Children & Youth Volume: 25 Issue: 2 Dated: September 2008 Pages: 103-122
Callum D. Eastwood Psy.D.; Kathryn Ecklund Ph.D.
Date Published
September 2008
20 pages
The purpose of this study was to identify practices that correlate with compassion fatigue in order to assist residential childcare workers (RCWs) and their employers in implementing effective support strategies that can enhance staff retention.
Three factors appeared to provide the best predictors for compassion fatigue risk among RCWs with the greatest predictor being burnout risk level (with a higher burnout risk appearing to put workers at greater risk for compassion fatigue). This finding suggests that one of the primary ways to address compassion fatigue risk is to address concerns regarding burnout risk. Feelings of being supported outside of work and reading for pleasure appeared to have a significant ability to predict risk levels for compassion fatigue; both appearing to protect workers from compassion fatigue. Self-care practices, such as reading, having a hobby, and taking pleasure trips/vacations suggest that an individual is actively taking time to focus on oneself or one’s interests outside of work. The RCW profession is similar to other social service and mental health professions, such as child welfare workers and therapists. Prior research has been conducted with RCWs regarding burnout indicating that RCWs are at risk for burnout due to the emotionally intense and prolonged interactions with clients, long work hours, and limited training. Given the paucity of research on self-care, burnout, and compassion fatigue among RCWs that work with emotionally disturbed or distressed children, this study was developed in order to explore the presence of risk levels for compassion fatigue within this profession and to examine the relationship that various demographic variables and self-care practice might have on such risk levels. Data were collected from 57 RCWs from 1 acute and 1 long-term residential facility for distressed, traumatized, and emotionally disturbed children in Sacramento, CA. Tables and references