In 2012, US News ranked the UW School of Social Work’s master of social work (MSW) program third among the nation’s 153 social work graduate schools.
The School of Social Work at the University of Washington will lead a newly formed partnership to provide professional development for the state’s social workers involved in child welfare.
The Washington State Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence, publicly announced May 10, unites social work education resources from the UW School of Social Work, the social work program at UW Tacoma, Eastern Washington University School of Social Work and Children’s Administration, which is part of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.
“The alliance is a groundbreaking collaboration designed to strengthen the professional expertise of social workers, enhance caregiving skills of foster and adoptive parents, and create better futures for Washington state children and families,” said Eddie Uehara, dean of the UW School of Social Work.
“This comprehensive effort will, for the first time, generate a statewide road map for social work training and education,” Uehara said. She added that it will also “leverage substantially more federal dollars for professional development and harness the deep expertise of Partners for Our Children, a School of Social Work-sponsored child welfare and policy analysis group.”
Previously, professional development for the state’s social workers involved in child welfare has been coordinated by Children’s Administration, which provides services to approximately 9,500 children and 7,800 families each month. About 800 to 1,000 of those children receive services while living at home, and the rest receive services while in foster care.
“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,” Denise Revels Robinson, assistant secretary at Children’s Administration, said in a news release. “Ultimately this will help us to better serve the children and families involved with public child welfare.”
Uehara, Revels Robinson and UW President Michael K. Young joined educators, state legislators, child welfare professionals and philanthropists on May 10 to celebrate the partnership. They signed a memorandum of understanding to guide the activities of the professional development program.
“Now, more than ever, the people of our state need a social welfare work force that is fully equipped to guide our children and families through the challenges of life in the 21st century,” Young said. “This partnership is an opportunity to leverage UW research and education expertise to improve our communities and enhance social well-being in our state.”
Washington state will now join the majority of child welfare systems in the country that have a professional development program in partnership with the state universities. What makes the Washington system distinctive is that it includes a research component intended to evaluate social work training programs and design curriculum based on which programs work best.
That aspect of the alliance will be led by Partners for Our Children, a policy and analysis group that works in collaboration with UW School of Social Work, DSHS and private philanthropy.
The alliance aims to:
- Provide a single, coordinated training system that pulls together professional development resources that work. Through a mix of online training sessions, webinars and in-person training, Washington state social workers can be better prepared to work with vulnerable families around the state.
- Provide social workers in Eastern Washington, through the participation of Eastern Washington University in the partnership, with greater local access to training opportunities. Currently social workers attend training sessions held only in Seattle.
- Have Children’s Administration 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.
The enhanced training and professional development system should be in place by July. The first stages will focus on supervisor and new social worker training with other components, including foster and adoptive parent training, to be added later.
For more information, contact Uehara at 206-685-2480 or firstname.lastname@example.org.