Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Timothy Rehner

Advisor Department

Social Work


The prevalence of trauma among youth involved with the child welfare system affects not only these individuals but also child welfare service providers, namely social workers, who experience this trauma indirectly through interaction with the children. This exposure places service providers at risk for compassion fatigue, in which these workers themselves experience trauma symptoms or are less able to complete job tasks. It is especially important to address the issues of negative personal reactions among this population in order to best care for social service workers in Mississippi and identify strategies to effectively improve Mississippi’s child welfare system. As such, the researcher investigated the following questions: “What is the prevalence and manifestation of compassion fatigue among child welfare workers in Mississippi?” and “How does educational preparation mitigate the occurrence of compassion fatigue among child welfare workers in Mississippi?” Thirty-eight part-time students in the MSW program at The University of Southern Mississippi currently employed by the Mississippi Department of Human Services were surveyed using the Professional Quality of Life scale. Ultimately, the participants did not report scores of burnout and secondary traumatic stress that reached or exceeded the national median, indicating low prevalence of symptoms and low risk for burnout and secondary traumatic stress. Moreover, educational preparation via curriculum, agency training, and supervisory support did not have a statistically significant relationship with rates of compassion fatigue, although higher levels of burnout correlated with lower levels of supervisory support.

Included in

Social Work Commons