Child Welfare Education Program (CWEP)

Working for DCS

Work in the field of public child welfare is rewarding and meaningful and is also demanding and challenging. Child Welfare Social Workers must be able to work with abused and neglected children, as well as, with those children's families, including the parents who abused and/or neglected them.  Child welfare social workers engage with families who may be facing significant challenges including poverty, a history of trauma, significant and pervasive oppression, substance abuse, domestic violence, mental health conditions and illnesses.  Additionally, child welfare social workers: 

  • assess children’s safety using safety frameworks
  • engage parents using solution-focused and motivational strategies  
  • advocate on behalf of parents, children, and care-givers
  • coordinate with community agencies
  • provide crisis intervention
  • collaborate with families in creating safety plans and planning for children’s permanency
  • promote children’s relational, emotional, social, and physical well-being
  • make decisions about children’s best interests
  • work with caregivers to address and respond to children’s trauma
  • write court reports and testify in court hearings
  • complete service authorizations and write case notes  
  • participate in educational and behavioral health teams on behalf of the children they serve. 

The work hours are not always limited to 8 to 5 and workers in the rural regions may be required to rotate performing on-call, after-hours duties.
We advise all applicants to the CWEP to explore whether a career in child welfare would be a good fit for them. Listed below are several ways you can gain more information about the work of public child welfare specifically at the Department of Child Safety.

  • Watch the video entitled "Secret Superhero." Watching this video is required as part of your application and you may be asked about it during your application and/or interview process
  • Read and review the  DCS Specialist job functions, and salary
  • Take a self-assessment which will allow you to reflect on how your personality characteristics fit with the demands of DCS work:   fit_checklist.pdf
  • Review common  Myths of Working at DCS.
  • Review the role of a DCS Specialist:  case_management_description_.pdf
  • View the frequently asked questions about the scholarship programs and working for DCS
  • View a sample contract with DCS
  • Visit one of the child welfare education units and talk about DCS work with one of our staff or supervisors. Please email Jodi Pawlowski ( and request to visit a unit. You may shadow our staff for a day. Please note that this option is only available to eligible applicants and those wishing to shadow in a unit must sign a strict confidentiality agreement, must pass the CPSCR background check prior to shadowing, and must certify that they do not have any criminal convictions that would prevent them from obtaining a Level 1 fingerprint clearance card.

Upon graduation, CWEP students will be placed for employment at DCS where the need is greatest. This means that neither the job function nor job location is known in advance. At the time students enter the CWEP, they will sign a contract with DCS. The contract states that the student can be placed for employment at any DCS office in the state of Arizona. The contract also states that the student will be hired into a DCS specialist position (a case carrying position).

If you are a student in the CWEP, you must begin your work commitment within 60 days of graduation.