UW School of Social Work E-news
Fall 2008  |  Return to issue home

School Cited for Academic Excellence

The School of Social Work (SSW) at the University of Washington has been selected by the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) to receive the 2008 Academic Excellence Award. The SSW’s leadership in the Partners for Our Children program and the contributions of the School’s Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program (CWTAP) were cited as specific examples of the School’s achievements.

Mark Courtney, Zynovia Hetherington & staffs with award
Mark Courtney and Zynovia Hetherington with the School's academic excellence award.

“We are very honored to receive this national award for academic excellence,” said Edwina Uehara, dean of the School of Social Work, “and proud that it reflects the vital work we are doing with children and families. Through public engagement and collaborative action, we believe we will reach our goal of improving services to children in the state’s child welfare system.”  

Robin Arnold-Williams, secretary of Washington state’s Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), who nominated the School, noted the School’s invaluable engagement as well as leadership in Partners for Our Children—a unique public-private collaboration among the SSW, DSHS and the private sector committed to making positive and lasting changes in the state’s child welfare system.  

 “We are grateful for and honored by the recognition provided by this human services award,” said Mark Courtney, executive director of Partners for Our Children and Ballmer Endowed Chair for Child Well-Being in the School of Social Work. “Through partnerships such as ours—grounded in rigorous evidence about what families truly need—real child welfare reform will take place.”

The award also recognizes the excellence of the School's longstanding Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program directed by Zynovia Hetherington. Secretary Arnold-Williams noted that the program’s understanding of the work of the DSHS Children's Administration “greatly contributes to the preparedness of our current and future social workers.” There are now 120 people participating in this program.

Selection criteria for the Academic Excellence Award were that the school, department or program:

  • Effectively prepares students for successful careers in human services
  • Is a valuable partner of state or local public human service agencies in its community
  • Has an academically rich and rigorous human services, social services, or social work curriculum.

Since July 2007, Partners for Our Children and DSHS have been working together to deepen understanding of how best to increase resources for foster family recruitment and retention, examining family reunification standards across the state, analyzing the state’s placement stability rates compared to other states’, and working to strengthen birth parent engagement.

The partnership “has already proven to be valuable in bringing together the state’s experience, the University’s mind power, and the resources of the private sector to better understand the factors that impact the well-being of children,” said Arnold-Williams. “State agencies can’t do it alone. This type of public-private partnership is one way to solve complex human problems more effectively.”

The APHSA’s Academic Excellence Award was established to recognize academic programs or institutions for outstanding contributions to the field of human services. The APHSA is a nonprofit, bipartisan organization whose mission is to develop, promote and implement public human service policies and practices that improve the health and well-being of families, children and adults.

“Colleges and universities can be important partners in efforts to serve clients and improve outcomes for vulnerable children, adults and families in the communities we serve,” said Jerry Friedman, executive director of the APHSA. “The School [of Social Work at UW] has demonstrated its commitment to excellence in human services.”

Fall 2008  |  Return to issue home