The Child Welfare Professional Education Project at UVM
The Child Welfare Professional Education Project
Child Welfare Traineeships
academic year, UVM’s Department of Social Work offers between 10 and 15 child
welfare traineeships to social work students currently enrolled in the BSW or
MSW program at the University of Vermont.
The traineeships provide significant financial support for social work
education to students who have a strong commitment to child welfare practice.
In exchange for this support, the students agree to focus their studies on
practice in child welfare and commit to employment as a social worker within
Vermont’s Department for Children and Families (DCF) following graduation. This
project supports professional excellence in public child welfare social work
practice with vulnerable children and their families.
project provides traineeships and support to students who are current employees
of DCF and to those who are not employees.
students about to enter their junior year and MSW students who are newly
admitted to the MSW program are encouraged to apply for consideration.
Financial support is generally offered over two academic years. However, some
years the project may also have one year traineeships available. Students who expect to complete their
studies within one academic year may also submit an application for
History and Background of the Project
Child Welfare Professional Education Project was created in 1993, through a
partnership between the Department of Social Work at the University of Vermont
(UVM) and the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF) to provide
social work education and training to child welfare social workers. One of
several projects sponsored by the partnership, the Professional Education
Project provides current and future public child welfare employees the
opportunity to acquire a professional social work degree. Funding for this
project is provided through Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, the State of
Vermont, and the University of Vermont.
overall aim of this and other child welfare education projects throughout the
United States is to improve the quality of child welfare services nationally by
providing professional education in social work to public child welfare
employees. Research has shown that child welfare social workers with BSW or MSW
degrees are better prepared for practice (Dhooper, Royce, & Wolfe, 1990),
are more effective in practice than workers with undergraduate or graduate
degrees in disciplines other than social work (Olsen & Holmes, 1982), and
are more effective with effective permanency planning for children who’ve been
in foster care for more than two years.
Further, research has shown that workers with a professional social work
degree are more likely to stay in child welfare practice (CWLA, 1990; Russell,
its first year, the traineeship opportunity was primarily offered to current
Vermont state employees in the division formerly known as Social and
Rehabilitation Services (SRS) and presently known as the Family Services
Division of DCF. The project’s early trainees pursued education towards the MSW
degree at UVM and received tuition support and a stipend while in school. The
traineeship project evolved to provide an option for state employees to receive
their full salary and benefits, as well as tuition support, while attending
school full time. (This option is suspended at the present time due to the
fiscal crisis in state government.) The project later expanded its traineeships
to students who agree to become Family Services social workers after completing
either the MSW or BSW program. Future employees receive full tuition and a
stipend while enrolled at the university. In the fall of 2007, the project
expanded its scope once again by opening up this opportunity to state employees
who work as Reach-up case managers in the DCF’s Economic Services Division,
since these employees also serve IVE eligible children. During this time of fiscal crisis in
state government, the partnership is exploring alternative options to support
current DCF employees who want to pursue professional social work education
without giving up their salary or position.
traineeship helps to support the overall goals of Vermont’s plan to transform
services for children and families. This plan includes the use of differential
response at the point of intake and implementation of family centered
practices. To learn about this plan and the current direction of public child
welfare practice in Vermont, go to
As of fall 2009, the trainee project at UVM has supported 136 student trainees, 45 of whom entered their studies as a current state employee. Today, it’s estimated that almost one third of all FSD social workers have earned a social work degree through the project. Further, a number of the project’s graduates serve in supervisory or leadership roles in the agency.
project currently supports 13 child welfare trainees.
Child Welfare League of America. (1990). Florida recruitment and retention study. Washington, DC: CWLA.
Dhooper, S.S., Royse, D.D., & Wolfe, L.C. (1990). Does social work education make a difference? Social Work. 35(1): 57-61.
Russel, M. (1987). National study of child welfare job
requirements. Portaln, ME: University of
Maine, National Resource Center for Management and Administration.
Conditions and Requirements of the Traineeship:
offer the following supports to full time BSW or MSW students over a maximum of
two academic years:
offer the following supports to full time BSW or MSW students over a maximum of
two academic years:
- Full tuition (at the in-state rate)
- University fees
- A cost of living stipend (currently $7500 per year) or in lieu of a stipend, some DCF employees are eligible to apply for part-time student status while continuing to work full-time in their current DCF position.
- One quarter of the cost of student health insurance at UVM (if purchased)
- Book reimbursement.
part of their course of study in either the BSW or MSW programs, trainees
- To follow the typical course enrollment for the BSW or MSW program, and agree to focus their studies on social work in child welfare.
- To enroll in specific electives relevant to social work in child welfare.
- To undertake a field placement that is tailored toward professional practice in child welfare and/or work with children and families.
Students without prior DCF case worker experience
in Family Services must complete a field practicum in a Family Services
office under the supervision of a MSW level Field Instructor. (Note: FSD Field placements are located in several offices in the state. A
placement in a specific location cannot be guaranteed.) MSW students complete this requirement in their concentration year, BSW
students in their senior year.
- BSW and MSW students who
are current DCF caseworkers in Family Services complete their field
education at other community
agencies that serve children and families or may choose a placement in another division or in administration at DCF.
Trainees who are future employees of DCF and receive 2 years of educational support commit to 3 years of employment as social workers within DCF following graduation.
- Trainees who begin as current DCF employees commit to 2 years of
employment in exchange for the equivalent of 2 academic years of
Traineeship contracts for less than 2 academic years of support are sometimes available and employment commitments are adjusted accordingly.
With the exception of trainees who enter their studies from an approved position within DCF other than a Family Services Social Worker, all trainees agree to employment as a Family Services Social Worker or Resource Coordinator.
Graduating student trainees without previous DCF experience are offered employment in district offices where there are positions open, thus may be required to accept employment in any part of the state in one of DCF’s 12 district offices. Typically the positions offered are permanent full time social work positions, however part time and temporary positions can be offered.
Trainees who enter the program as a DCF employee generally return to the positions held prior to entering school.
Traineeship Selection Criteria and Application Process:
be eligible for the traineeship, all candidates should be enrolled as a student
in social work at UVM as either an MSW student or as a junior or senior
student for the coming academic year.
All applicants should indicate their interest to either the Trainee Project Coordinator at UVM or the Human Resources Development Director at DCF in advance of application.
MSW student applicants without prior DCF experience should indicate interest in the traineeship on the appropriate section of the Graduate College application.
Current BSW students should notify the BSW Program Coordinator.
Initial interviews for information can be requested with the Trainee Project Coordinator or Human Resource Development Director.
The process to apply differs depending on the applicant’s current employment status at DCF.
from individuals not currently employed by DCF:
- Applicants complete and submit a paper application which includes answers to essay questions, a copy of their resume, and names of three professional references to the Trainee Project Coordinator prior to April 1 for the following fall.
- The Application can be found here
Applications for prospective employees are reviewed by a committee
composed of DCF personnel and trainee project staff. As part of the
application process, the applicant
gives permission for the committee to review her/his student records from
either the BSW and MSW
program or the MSW application process.
Applicants are evaluated on the basis of their knowledge of and
commitment to child welfare practice, past and present academic
and work experience, particularly in human services.
For those applicants without prior work experience in child welfare practice, we strongly recommend
that you shadow a DCF worker as part
of the application process. The Trainee
Coordinator can assist in making arrangements for this.
Candidates who meet the basic requirements are interviewed by the
selection committee late in the spring semester, and are notified of the
decision within several weeks of the interviews.
from current DCF employees who are employed as Family Services Division
caseworkers or in other approved casework positions:
To be eligible, employees must have completed their 6 month probationary period.
To initiate an application, employees should contact the Human Resources Director at DCF to verify eligibility.
· Employee applicants submit the following to the Human Resources Development Director:
- Letter of application
- Letter of support from their supervisor
- Copy of their most recent employee performance evaluation
Employee applications are reviewed and selected by state agency personnel typically during March and April for enrollment the following fall.
Resources for further information
Information on the Vermont
Department for Children and Families and social work positions in the Family Services
Division can be found at:
On-line Copy of Title IV-E VT Child Welfare Trainee Manual
Welfare League of America http://www.cwla.org/
Welfare Information Gateway http://www.childwelfare.gov/organizations/
Forum for Child Welfare http://www.ifcw.org/
Convention on the Rights of the Child http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm
Partnership Projects Director
442 Waterman Building
85 S. Prospect St.
Burlington, VT 05405
Policy and Operations Manager
Family Services Central Office
Last modified February 21 2012 11:00 AM