CWLA Slashes Staff in Overhaul

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Christine James-Brown has made her first extremely painful decision since taking over the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) in April: cutting one-third of the staff.

CWLA announced last month that it will go into fiscal 2008 with 60 full-time positions, down from about 90. The move is part of a larger reorganization, as the 87-year-old agency adjusts to economic changes that have drastically reduced its membership and income. (See “A Very Nice Person Takes a Hot Seat,” April.)

“This is a very challenging time for CWLA,” James-Brown said in a letter to member agencies last month.

In recent years CWLA’s membership has dropped from 1,120 agencies to about 750. It once had 130 employees.

She said 14 people were laid off last month, while the rest of the eliminated positions were already vacant.

The reorganization includes shifting staffers to work on broader areas instead of specializing on one issue. For instance, rather than having a residential care or an adoption specialist, James-Brown said, “we’re going to have a program development division” with people who deal with those and other related topics. “People are going to be flexible working across those areas, but there will be fewer people.”

She said many of the changes were made in response to feedback from member agencies that she visited after taking the helm.

“We really need to be very, very focused and strategic in terms of what we do,” she said. “I want us to grow, but I want us to grow strategically.”