Child Welfare Education Program (CWEP)


In the late 1970’s, government officials and child welfare advocates recognized the need for public funding to support training and education opportunities for current and prospective child welfare professionals. They had observed that child welfare workers with a social work background were more effective at providing child welfare services than those with other degrees and backgrounds. The needs of child welfare clients were becoming increasingly complex which furthered the need to encourage more students to seek quality social work training.

This realization led to the creation of Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, part of the Child Welfare and Adoption Assistance Act of 1980, that provides federal matching funds for states administering foster care and adoption assistance programs. In creating Title IV-E, policymakers aimed to “improve the quality of care of children in foster care, reduce the number of children in foster care, return children to their homes as soon as conditions permit, and facilitate the adoption or permanent placement of children who cannot be returned to their homes.”

Through Title IV-E funds, these programs support social work education to build and strengthen the child welfare workforce. Training funds are disbursed through university partnerships that provide financial assistance to Bachelor’s of Social Work (BSW) and Master’s of Social Work (MSW) students “who are employed or preparing for employment in a public child welfare agency.”

The ASU Child Welfare Education Program began in 1988 and is funded by the Child Welfare Field Education and Student Support Program, a Title IV-E grant of the Social Security Act. It is a collaborative effort of the Arizona State University School of Social Work and the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS). The program provides financial support, a specialized curriculum, and a public child welfare field placement to social work students. The Principal Investigators of the grant are Dr. Elizabeth Lightfoot, Miguel Vieyra, and Dr. Tonia Stott.

The mission of the program is to prepare social work students to empower families and promote the safety, permanency, and well-being of the children involved in Arizona's public child welfare system.

The goals of the program are:

  1. facilitate students' development of culturally responsive and socially just critical decision-making capacities
  2. instill in students' frameworks for viewing both problems and collaborative solution-seeking through trauma-informed, relationally-based, and resiliency theories
  3. teach engagement, assessment, and intervention skills specific to case management with vulnerable children and families.

Students who are accepted into the program receive payment of their in-state tuition and mandatory fees through Title IV-E funds. This is federal funding that is administered by DCS. Students who receive this funding sign a contract committing them to work for DCS upon graduation for a contracted amount of time. While working at DCS, students under contract receive the same rate of pay and benefits as all other DCS employees of their same grade and are able to promote within the agency when they are eligible.

The purpose of the program is to strengthen the public child welfare workforce by strengthening the competencies of child welfare social workers.