CHENEY, Wash. - The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), Eastern Washington University and University of Washington have joined forces to form the Washington State Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence to provide a comprehensive training and professional development system for the state's child welfare workforce.
The Alliance is made up of DSHS Children's Administration; UW School of Social Work; UW Tacoma Social Work Program; Partners for Our Children; and Eastern Washington University's School of Social Work.
"Our intent is to use the combined expertise of all the partners to design a comprehensive training and professional development system that is seamless as social workers move from school to practice," said Denise Revels Robinson, Children's Administration assistant secretary. "Ultimately this will help us to better serve the children and families involved with public child welfare."
The purpose of the training and professional development system is to create an integrated and comprehensive child welfare social work education, training, and research and evaluation system for the continuous improvement of services to children and families served by the child welfare system. The new system will build on the strengths and expertise of both universities and Children's Administration, providing greater training capacity statewide and at the local level.
The training and professional development will be delivered through a mix of online sessions, webinars and in-person training. With the participation of Eastern Washington University in the partnership, this will expand the department's training infrastructure for social workers, and create new training opportunities in eastern Washington. More training delivered closer to regional and local Children's Administration offices will increase training opportunities for social workers and frontline supervisors, managers, administrators, foster, adoptive and relative caregivers, and other key community partners involved with the foster care system.
The enhanced training and professional development system is slated to be in place by July. Alliance staff is currently working with Children's Administration teams in each of three regions in the state to research, plan and implement the transition to the new, enhanced training and professional development system. Early implementation will focus on supervisor and new social worker training. The remaining components of the system will follow, including foster parent training.
The University of Washington School of Social Work will be the lead partner under contract with the department to collaborate with the universities. Partners for Our Children, affiliated with the UW School of Social Work, will evaluate the training and help guide curriculum development based on current research of best practice.
Washington will now join the majority of child welfare systems in the country that have a professional development program in partnership with the state schools of social work higher education system. However, the research component of the Alliance with Partners for Our Children makes Washington's professional development system unique.
The training and professional development system will provide an improved framework for Children's Administration to claim federal Title IV-E training funding. With the partnership now in place, and the implementation of the training and professional development system underway, Children's Administration will work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to identify how to maximize federal funding for social work training and professional development.
Children's Administration provides services to approximately 9,500 children in any given month, serving approximately 7,800 families. About 800-1,000 of those children receive services while living at home, and the rest receive services while in foster care.
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