New child welfare training initiative coming to WSU includes financial support for students

More funding support for future child welfare workers will be available at the Wayne State University School of Social Work as part of a child welfare training initiative recently authorized by the State of Michigan and soon to launch at several public universities in the state. Funding for the initiative comes from Title IV-E, a federal funding program that helps states pay for the costs of operating their child welfare systems and training the workforce. 

“Social workers bring an important perspective and skill set to child welfare practice, focusing on family strengths and prioritizing family preservation alongside child safety,” Social Work Assistant Professor Bryan Victor noted. “We also want a child welfare workforce that reflects the local community, and as Detroit’s School of Social Work it is important that Wayne State take an active role in training and support the next generation of child welfare leaders.” 

Faculty and staff involved in project

Angela Olivera will serve as the school’s program coordinator for Wayne State’s Title IV-E child welfare training initiative. In that role, Olivera will provide mentorship to participating students, develop a series of lectures and learning opportunities to enhance student training, and maintain close working relationship with child welfare agencies across Southeast Michigan. Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Anwar Najor-Durak, Director of Practicum Education Chandra Carr, and Assistant Professor Victor will serve as the administrative leads. Together they will help ensure the ongoing availability of the program’s curricular and financial resources. 

The program has been very successful in other states, allowing students to get strong training and mentorship along with financial support to increase the feasibility of pursuing a career in child welfare.  

Once the initiative launches - anticipated in the coming year - participating students will be eligible to receive up to $5,000 per semester in stipends along with dedicated mentorship and child welfare training opportunities provided by Olivera. In exchange for each stipend, students will commit to six months of work in a child welfare agency following graduation.  

“Students admitted to the Master of Social Work (MSW) advanced standing or core program will be eligible to enroll in the Title IV-E training program. Participants will take a child welfare-focused curriculum and complete their practicum in a child welfare setting. The stipends that students will receive comes with a commitment to work in a child welfare agency following graduation. The amount of time required will depends on the amount of support received,” Victor explained. 

Due to the heightened need for social work professionals within the child welfare sector and the financial burden of tuition costs, it’s important for WSU to offer a Title IV-E training program. The program will effectively prepare students for a career in child welfare and also makes obtaining an MSW more affordable. 

“I’m grateful that the organizing work necessary to bring Title IV-E training programs back to Michigan was initiated with leadership from Joanne Sobeck, associate professor emerita in Social Work. I’ve been happy to continue to support that organizing work on behalf of Wayne State,” Victor said.

Author: Laura Hipshire; Editor: Betsy Vanderstelt

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