Michigan Department of Human Services, Michigan schools of social work offer child welfare certificate that embeds training in the classroom

Contact: Christina Fecher, media relations coordinator, 517-373-7394

Sept. 9, 2011

The Michigan Department of Human Services and Michigan's accredited schools of social work bachelor's degree programs (BSW) will offer a certificate in child welfare, ensuring students receive a thorough understanding of the system before working with vulnerable children and families, DHS Director Maura D. Corrigan said today.

The certificate will also allow graduates to undergo an abbreviated agency-based training upon hire so they can handle adoption, foster care and Child Protective Services cases more quickly and effectively.

"This partnership has been a top priority because it truly shortens the distance for those who want to become a child welfare worker," Corrigan said. "Not only does this partnership exemplify Gov. Rick Snyder's priority to retain the best and brightest in Michigan, it ultimately ensures that there are more highly-qualified caseworkers in the field to work with the state's vulnerable children, adults and families.

"The benefits are widespread."

Officials with DHS and the schools of social work met over a three-month period to review identified core competencies for social work education that are required by the schools' accrediting organizations, and for child welfare to develop detailed curriculum requirements. The collaboration resulted in the schools aligning their curriculum and their field placements with the Child Welfare Training Institute, a program within DHS that develops, implements, trains, evaluates, tracks and monitors training for the state's child welfare staff.

"All BSW programs will be invited to participate with the goal of maximum participation in the year or two ahead," said Gary Anderson, Director of the School of Social Work at Michigan State University. There are 22 accredited BSW programs in the state of Michigan. 

"The goal is to offer academic courses and a specialized child welfare field placement that provide a thorough and well-rounded education, that encourage job placement in child welfare and prepare graduates for highly competent and effective work with vulnerable children and families," Anderson said. "Students will benefit from this special education, agencies will benefit from having a well-prepared workforce ready to assume a caseload as quickly as possible, and children and families will benefit from having a well-educated, well-trained and highly committed social worker helping them to provide a safe and loving environment for children."

Students who earn the child welfare certificate from one of the state's accredited schools of social work will still be required to participate in an abbreviated training that will focus on specific program-area policies and procedures, such as CPS, foster care or adoption, computer entry and shadowing experienced workers, before obtaining a full caseload.

These students will be ahead of the game because they will come to DHS equipped with that extensive classroom knowledge and a child welfare field placement during their academic program, said Steve Yager, Acting Director of DHS Children's Services Administration.

"Not only does this increase their employability, this is affirmation that the training we provide at DHS was strong," he said. "CWTI director, Terri Gilbert, and her staff have done an excellent job providing child welfare workers with the essential tools to serve the state's vulnerable children, adults and families."

For more information on DHS, please visit www.michigan.gov/dhs. Follow DHS on Twitter @MichiganDHS.