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Burnout in Child and Youth Care Workers

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Childcare
Wordcount: 2306 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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It is clear, through countless studies, that burnout in the Child and Youth Care field has grown to affect many professionals. These workers are affected by stressors, which in return result in high turnover rates and poorer quality of care (Steinlin, C., Dölitzsch, C., Kind, N., Fischer, S., Schmeck, K., Fegert, J., & Schmid, M., 2017). Burnout may result from high numbers of working hours to stress and traumatic experiences, to emotional stress and even environmental issues as brought together by the following four articles. The articles chosen have been relevant and helped me gain a greater understanding of what Child and Youth Care work entitle. Personally, these articles have given me a better insight into what experiences may present themselves within this field of work. It is important to me to know what challenges I may face as I approach a time when decisions need to be made about my future career. I am hoping to gain a better understanding of what characteristics may be leading factors in burnout. This may help me identify them as they come, and hopefully, allow me to take actions to prevent my personal risk of burnout. I am also interested in seeing how these articles may provide suggestions and solutions that may help improve the child care system as a whole.


The four-chosen peer-reviewed articles have helped me gain a better understanding of burnout in Child and Youth Care Work.

Carson, Baumgartner, Ota, Kuhn and Durr explore the worldly aspects of child care and its relation to burnout in their article “An Ecological Momentary Assessment of Burnout, Rejuvenation Strategies, Job Satisfaction, and Quitting Intentions in Childcare Teachers”. Specifically, feelings of exhaustion and how it relates to turnover rates and quitting intentions within the youth care system (Carson, R., Baumgartner, J., Ota, C., Kuhn, A., & Durr, A., 2016). Another purpose of their study was to examine the frequency as well as the kind of revival approaches child care teachers often incorporate to reduce overall stress from their daily work. They studied 50 childcare teachers and followed them throughout a week-long assessment. Exhaustion levels, frequency and new types of approaches, as well as their satisfaction regarding their work life were all together examined. Each participant was presented with questions on exhaustion such as “At this point in time, how physically tired are you from your day?” (Carson et al, 2016). They were then asked to record their feelings about each variable on a 5-mark scale (the number 1 representing “not at all”, and 5 representing “completely”). They were then presented with 26 stress-reducing activities that helped assess the rejuvenation strategies associated with burnout in child care. To assess their satisfaction regarding their work life, they were asked to describe overall thoughts towards their work on a 7-mark scale similar to the scale assessing exhaustion. Finally, to assess end-of-day quitting intentions, they were once again asked to answer on a 5-mark scale (number 1 representing not at all and number 5 representing absolutely) (Carson et al, 2016). They recorded these measures on a handheld device. They concluded that exhaustion was strongly related to quitting intentions (Carson et al, 2016). However, their satisfaction regarding their work life negatively corresponded to their intentions to quit. Carson et al. suggest that future studies should focus on the managing emotion, as well as physical and cognitive energy resources, and the effect they will, therefore, have on quitting intention.

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The second article chosen, written by Steinlin, Dölitzsch, Kind, Fischer, Schmeck, Fegert, and Schmid focused on investigating the frequency of post-traumatic and secondary traumatic stress. They also aimed to gain more information regarding burnout among youth care workers and assess the predictive value of a sense of coherence, self-care, and job satisfaction. (Steinlin et al, 2017). They studied approximately 319 professional child welfare workers. Their aim was to assess coherence, perceived collective efficacy, self-care, and work satisfaction, and finally symptoms of traumatic stress (Steinlin et al, 2017). The contents were similar to and strengthened arguments made in the first article. They used participants between the age of 23 and 65 years old. They were researched for 3 months. Together, they averaged 10 years of professional childcare experience. Every week, they were asked to fill out questionnaires. They used a 10-item questionnaire when assessing perceived collective efficacy.  To assess coherence, however, they used a 9-item questionnaire. To assess self-care, a 24-item questionnaire was used. Finally, to assess job satisfaction they used a 27-item questionnaire. Results indicated that burnout due to work was found within about 18% of the individuals assessed. They found that a sense of coherence was the more important predictor, and lead to the least amount of post-traumatic stress (Steinlin et al, 2017). The authors suggested many recommendations moving forward and suggest that it may be ideal to work towards investing as many resources as possible to help maintain the well-being of staff members. This in turn may promote an increase in the quality of care as well as an increased stability among institutions (Steinlin et al, 2017).

The third article chosen “The role of Self-Care on Compassion Satisfaction, Burnout and Secondary Trauma Among Child Welfare Workers” written by Salloum, Kondrat, Johnco, and Olson explores the role of TISC (trauma-informed self-care) to help predict compassion satisfaction, as well as burnout and compassion fatigue among child care workers (Salloum, A., Kondrat, D., Johnco, C., & Olson, L., 2015). The study followed 104 case managers and supervisors. The participants were called up during training sessions on domestic violence. Those who chose to participate in the study took a survey that took about 15 minutes. Results showed that between case managers and supervisors there was no compelling contrast in the level of burnout. However, about 30% of workers described steep levels of burnout. They also found that as age increased, burnout levels decreased (Salloum et al, 2015). Future studies would benefit by “increasing the representation of transgender workers to better understand and accurately represent the child care worker population” (Salloum et al, 2015). This was a limitation for their study because they originally had a couple more participants that they had to exclude due to potential limitations of anonymity when reporting the effects of gender on their experiments. 

 The final article chosen, written by Koch, Stranzinger, Nienhaus, and Kozak investigate how psychological factors of the effort-reward imbalance (ERI) model may impact burnout as well as musculoskeletal symptoms. They explained at between 10-30% of child care workers experience burnout, or show burnout symptoms (Koch, P., Stranzinger, J., Nienhaus, A., & Kozak, A., 2015). They suggest that factors such as below average income, lack of awareness, and high levels of noise exposure are associated with burnout in this field (Koch et al, 2015). This psychological situation can be then recorded using the ERI model, and that is exactly what they used. They assessed 4000 employees across 26 different facilities. The participants had to meet a couple requirements such as they had to work for at least 10 hours per week, and they were given four weeks to finish the survey. They were asked to fill out the questionnaire anonymously. The questionnaire collected data based on the area of work, the number of hours per week worked, physical stress, and noise exposure and more (Koch et al, 2015). They then came up with a statistical evaluation based on the data collected from the questionnaire. Unfortunately, of the 400 participants, only 57% returned the surveys and over half of the employees in child care centers reported the risk of burnout (64.9%) (Koch et al, 2015). The subjective noise was the leading correlation to the risk of burnout. This is because loud speech requires more attention than meaningless noise (Koch et al, 2015). Koch et al suggest that measures should be taken to reduce noise in the workplace, as well as increasing control and organization at work.


All four articles helped me better understand the stresses places on child and youth care professionals and their influence on burnout. A common theme that emerged throughout the four articles was the impact that burnout had on the quality of childcare. Carson et al explained this idea in simple terms. "burnout has been associated with lower quality teacher instruction, which directly impacts students" (Carson et al, 2016). Steinlin et al explained this concept in more detail. They explained that burnout is described by emotional exhaustion, cynicism, depersonalization, and distancing, and explained that as this increases, the result will reflect in the quality of care (Steinlin et al, 2017). Turnover rates and intentions of quitting also became a popular theme and have been agreed upon by the articles as well. Carson et al explained that "exhaustion dimensions were strongly and significantly positively related to childcare teacher end-of-day quitting intentions" (Carson et al, 2016). Unfortunately, child care workers are experiencing reoccurring difficulties that lead them to experience symptoms of burnout. In return, they provide poorer quality of care and have reported higher rates of turnover or intent on quitting. Alison et al also supported Steinlin et all and Carson et al on their belief that emotional exhaustion and depersonalization play a large part and are characteristics of burnout. “Burnout refers to a syndrome characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced feelings of personal accomplishment…” (Alison et al, 2014). Unlike the first three articles, Koch et all looked at less personal and emotional characteristics that lead to burnout. They focused on situations at work, the number of hours worked, physical activity, age and more (Koch et al, 2015). It was interesting to see a different aspect of what affects burnout in this field of work.

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 Overall, these topics worked well together to explain the many different experiences, both physical and personal, that child care workers experience that results in burnout. The articles provided clear evidence on the effect of exhaustion and depersonalization, as well as the result this has on the quality of care. It is evident that burnout is experienced by a majority of youth care workers, and something needs to change in order to progress as a community.

It is clear that burnout has been studied in detail for a long time. Although often underestimated, child care workers are forced to deal with many stressors related to their work and as time goes on, these stressors may impact the feelings and emotions of these care professionals. Factors such as noise, emotional exhaustion, and depersonalization among others need to be addressed, and implementations must be made in order to improve quality of care. Through gaining a better understanding of the complications that may arise throughout this field of work, I think that the information on specific stressors and characteristics can be used to improve CYC work. One idea may be figuring out how to decrease noise within a care environment, and implement ways to reduce exhaustion among CYC care workers. Specifically, perhaps more workers may be present and fewer children under the care of one individual. This may help reduce the amount of noise and stress. Furthermore, this may help reduce exhaustion among workers. Another suggestion may be better compensation. If childcare workers are paid better, they may feel less risk of burnout, and therefore provide a better quality of care. It is unfair to expect a high quality of care without listening to the needs of these workers. Research should be conducted on providing more information to child care workers about burnouts and prevention strategies. Research could also be done on what programs would benefit the workers in a way that makes their job more enjoyable. This would hopefully result in a lower rated of burnout and higher quality of care. 


  • Carson, R., Baumgartner, J., Ota, C., Kuhn, A., & Durr, A. (2016). An ecological momentary assessment of burnout, rejuvenation, strategies, job satisfaction, and quitting intentions in childcare teachers. Early Childhood Education Journal, 45:801-808
  • Steinlin, C., Dölitzsch, C., Kind, N., Fischer, S., Schmeck, K., Fegert, J., & Schmid, M. (2017). The influence of sense of coherence, self-care and work satisfaction on secondary traumatic stress and burnout among child and youth residential care workers in Switzerland. Child and Youth Services, 38(2), 159-175
  • Salloum, A., Kondrat, D., Johnco, C., & Olson, L. (2015). The role of self-care on compassion satisfaction, burnout and secondary trauma among child welfare workers. Children and Youth Services Review, 49:54-61
  • Koch, P., Stranzinger, J., Nienhaus, A., & Kozak, A., (2015). Musculoskeletal symptoms and risk of burnout in child care workers – a cross-sectional study. PLOS ONE, 10:1-15


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