C1: Workforce Recruitment and Retention in Challenging Times: Case Studies from a System of Care

Area of Focus: COA Accreditation

Woods Services’ System of Care is comprised of six organizations that share a common mission: Providing life-cycle care to people with intellectual disabilities, autism, medical and behavioral health challenges, and those involved in the child welfare system. Across the system of care, a diverse workforce of 6,000 people are employed. Their robust employee engagement strategy serves as one of the transformational cornerstones Woods has experienced over the last six years. Qualified employees who stay over time are critical to carrying out their shared mission, leading directly to improved consumer outcomes. Woods System of Care recognizes by doing better for employees, everyone wins.

In this dynamic workshop, an executive leader from Woods and one of its affiliates will highlight case studies to illustrate best practices along the continuum of recruitment, retention, training, professional development, and support of employees who are tasked with delivering services to multiple populations across 200 programs. These best practices are aligned with COA Accreditation standards, going beyond role clarity by matching job requirements to training. They promote innovative thinking and creativity, offer professional development, and provide trauma-informed support to staff. Woods and its affiliates have implemented diverse strategies, such as designing accessible career ladders for advancement, providing free onsite health care, as well as heavily subsidized degree programs with a dedicated staff person working to help employees navigate enhanced benefits and coach them through barriers to earning their degree. In addition to innovative trauma-informed approaches, such as offering vicarious trauma workshops and a “Sanctuary” meditation room, Woods System of Care provides career mobility across organizations where they are located in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Join this workshop to hear examples and strategies relevant for all types of health and human services providers.

Learning Objectives

  • Gain insight into common workforce challenges many health and human services organizations face
  • Learn how to incorporate employee engagement strategies into your own organization
  • Identify creative financing strategies to help offset costs of enhanced benefits


Karen Coleman
President and CEO
Tabor Children’s Services

Erin Drummond
Assistant Vice President of Employee Training and Development
Woods Services

Karen Wilkins, MHRM, SHRM-CP, PHR
Chief Human Resources Officer
Tabor Services

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