Professional quality of life in the child protection system: The mediating role of attachment security and closeness in the child-employee dyad
Child protection workers who interact with vulnerable children daily are indirectly exposed to multiple traumatic events, and the possibility of experiencing burnout and secondary traumatic stress (STS) is high. Concurrently with these outcomes, positive results can occur in this type of activity, which are experienced in the form of compassion satisfaction. The purpose of this study is to explain the effect personal adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) exert on the professional quality of life (ProQOL) of selected categories of employees (foster parents, psychologists, and social workers), via the employees’ attachment security and closeness toward the children they work with. This study is the first to investigate factors that influence the development of ProQOL in a more complex sample of child protection workers. Data were collected at a single point in time with the help of 11 Child Protection Services Bureaus from Romania, using an online survey, yielding 223 participants, including 130 foster parents and 93 specialists. The mediating model was tested with structural equation modeling. The overall fit of the model is acceptable. The indirect effects of ACEs on the components of ProQOL are statistically significant, and attachment security and closeness in the child-employee dyad act as protective factors against the development of burnout and STS in this sample. Findings confirm the beneficial effects of employee attachment security and closeness towards children they work with on their ProQOL. These results could be implemented by considering attachment-based approaches in supporting professionals.
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