Wayne State wins federal funding to ensure competent child welfare workforce

March 31, 2014

The Wayne State University School of Social Work was recently named one of 11 recipients of federal funds dedicated to advance the preparation and support of an expert, culturally responsive workforce that can effectively deliver high quality child welfare services. 

Over five years, the school will receive more than $730,000 from the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute to fund "Wayne Together - Child Welfare Learning and Leadership Collaborative," a program to create a sustainable education and training exchange addressing child welfare career awareness and workforce development. Through a partnership with the Michigan Department of Human Services, the School of Social Work will train 75 prospective child welfare workers within Southeastern Michigan. 

The Wayne Together Collaborative has three objectives, the first being to increase the number of competent M.S.W. graduates specializing in practice with child welfare populations impacted by poverty and trauma in metropolitan Detroit. To this end, the School of Social Work will increase its child welfare specialization courses and offer field placements comprising three relevant rotations: child protection, foster care, and adoption. 

Second, the program will increase DHS workforce retention rates by giving workers individualized coaching for skills improvement and offering workshops on timely child welfare topics. Third, the School of Social Work and DHS will lend their respective expertise to robust continuing education programming and child welfare learning communities promoting child welfare careers.

Wayne County has the greatest number of child welfare cases and employs the largest number of child welfare staff in the state of Michigan, which demonstrates a high need for comprehensive services and a strong investment in practitioner development, said Joanne Sobeck, principal investigator and associate dean of research for the School of Social Work.

"We know that many of our graduates stay in Southeast Michigan to practice after completing their advanced training," Sobeck said. "By selecting the best students, integrating learning opportunities and creating connections between faculty, students, graduates and welfare workers, Wayne Together will launch the next generation of regional leaders improving outcomes and fostering success among Michigan's most vulnerable children."

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution of higher education offering 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 28,000 students.