Paying & Retaining IFPS Therapists

Over at the IFPS Coast to Coast Blog, the National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) recently assisted with the development of the Retention and Compensation Survey and analysis of results.

The following is a summary of the 27 responses that were received (survey instructions requested that one person per agency respond):

Click here to download the survey summary (PDF file, 86 KB).

In addition to the summary of responses, NFPN conducted further analysis on three issues that required comparing responses of one question with another. Here is the summary:

  1. Do agencies with above average compensation have higher retention rates?
    YES. There was a significantly higher number of respondents reporting higher than average compensation who also reported retention rates of 50% or above for the past three years (13) in comparison to respondents who reported lower than average compensation but retention rates of 50% or higher (3).
  2. Do agencies that provide salary increases have higher retention rates?
    NO. There was little difference between respondents reporting retention rates of 50% or higher in the past 3 years along with a salary increase since 2011 (9) in comparison to respondents who reported a retention rate of 50% or higher in the past 3 years along with no salary increase since 2011 (7).
  3. Do agencies that pay significantly more for a Master’s degree therapist than a Bachelor’s degree therapist have higher retention rates?
    YES. All but one respondent reporting at least a $4,000 pay difference between a Master’s degree and Bachelor’s degree plus comparable experience had retention rates of 50% or higher over the past 3 years. All but two respondents reporting a $2,500 or lower pay difference between Master’s and Bachelor’s degree had retention rates of under 50% over the past 3 years.

What can we learn from this survey?

  1. We know from other sources that high turnover is costly and the earlier the therapist leaves, the more cost the agency incurs. Could the field of IFPS develop a screening tool that would help to identify applicants who are more likely to stay for a longer period of time?
  2. Higher pay appears to be linked with higher retention while, at least in this survey, salary increases are not linked with higher retention. Perhaps IFPS therapists don’t factor in salary increases because they only occur annually, if at all? Agencies definitely do need to consider overall compensation if they want to retain therapists.
  3. Therapists place value on earning a Master’s degree and expect greater compensation in return. IFPS agencies need to look at the difference in pay between Master’s level and Bachelor’s level therapists and make sure that obtaining a Master’s degree is incentivized and rewarded.
  4. In understanding why they stay, agencies need to know that therapists value flexibility above all else. So agencies need to emphasize flexibility when hiring, ask therapists what flexibility needs they have, and fulfill them!
  5. Understandably, therapists leave IFPS agencies for higher pay but a very close second is “professional growth opportunity.” If IFPS agencies could meet this need, more therapists would stay.

Sharing Ideas, Information, and Resources — Let us hear from you!

  1. What tools and resources is your agency using to recruit and retain IFPS therapists?
  2. If compensation is determined mainly by the funding provided through a contract, could IFPS therapists have input on how that pool of funds is allocated?
  3. Do any agencies use loan forgiveness programs to aid an IFPS therapist in obtaining a Master’s degree and to retain that therapist as an employee?
  4. Among the reasons why IFPS therapists stay at agencies are flexibility and a supportive work environment. How are flexibility and a supportive work environment defined by your agency?

You may share ideas, information, and resources directly with others by posting a comment on the IFPS Blog at:

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