They also say a $4,000 bonus plan put in place with the Legislature's help has helped convince more entry-level child welfare specialists, who must have a college degree and make $28,573 to start, to stay on the job.
The reality, Johnson says, is that being a child welfare specialist is tough work.
Child welfare specialists are, in effect, case managers who interact with families, attorneys, law enforcement, the judicial system and DHS staff, and who, in the end, often make life-changing recommendations to the court.
Nancy Robison, a DHS child welfare field liaison for Tulsa County, thinks of the job "as a calling."
"First and foremost, they want to do right for the kids, but it's a very demanding job" she said.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.