The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Longitudinal Assessment of the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute Traineeship Programs: Innovative Approaches and Lessons Learned From a Multi-Site Partnership Evaluation

Thursday, January 16, 2014: 3:30 PM-5:15 PM
HBG Convention Center, Room 103A Street Level (San Antonio, TX)
Cluster: Organizations, Management, and Communities
Symposium Organizer:
Mary L. McCarthy, PhD, State University of New York at Albany

In 2008, the Children’s Bureau (CB) created the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) to build the capacity of the nation’s child welfare workforce. One component was to oversee MSW and BSW traineeship programs to support professional education for current or prospective child welfare practitioners.  NCWWI allocated traineeship awards to 12 social work education programs in 2009 and 2010. At the same time, CB-funded four Comprehensive Workforce Projects which also included a traineeship component. Of these 16 programs, 5 focused in whole or in part on serving Native American students.  The Butler Institute for Families at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of School of Social Work (BI) serves as NCWII evaluator, including conducting a longitudinal evaluation of the 16 Traineeship programs.  The cross-site evaluation includes 44 social work programs in 16 states, serving 353 BSW and MSW students.


A collaborative and participatory evaluation approach was used for this longitudinal research. Most of the quantitative data is gathered through the online Student Stipend Inventory (SSI), which is comprised of three instruments (Baseline, Annual, and Follow-up) focusing on traineeship students’ perceptions and experiences of a) specialized traineeship programs; b) preparation for child welfare practice; c) agency climate; d) impact of child welfare work; and e) personal competence and commitment to child welfare work. The design also includes qualitative interviews with project teams and students, and student competency ratings from faculty liaisons and field instructors.  We follow students beyond graduation and throughout their repayment period to examine transfer of learning and to explore factors influencing job retention, satisfaction and commitment.

 Previous research on IV-E stipend students examined the value of the MSW or BSW program in both preparing social workers for work in child welfare services and in retaining workers on the job (e.g. Fox, Miller & Barbee, 2003; Jones, 2002; Jones & Okamura 2000; Scannapieco & Connell-Corrick, 2003; Zlotnik, 2003). Specially prepared IV-E graduates have been found to be better prepared for the work (Antle & Martin 2003), and have a good retention rate beyond the payback period (CalSWEC , 2011). A major weakness in all of the IV-E evaluations is their state or county specificity. No one has endeavored to implement a cross site evaluation to “learn what factors are related to retention and satisfaction among staff and how training programs, like Title-IV-E, are actually working” (Chavkin & Lee, 2007, p 37). A decade of research and recommendations support the decision to locate funding for traineeships within NCWWI and establish a cross site longitudinal evaluation to examine this approach in greater depth.  


In this symposium we focus on three important domains of work from the NCWII cross-site evaluation.  First, we examine the measurement model for competency gains across the educational experience. Second we examine the student experience in transitioning from school to work.  Finally, we focus in on the programs serving Native American students, identifying special issues in traineeship programming and trainee experiences.

* noted as presenting author
Child Welfare Competencies, Program Characteristics, and Readiness for Child Welfare Practice
Robin Leake, PhD, University of Denver; Kathleen Faller, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; Shauna Rienks, PhD, University of Denver; Cathryn C. Potter, PhD, University of Denver
Transitioning From School to Work: Graduate Experiences and Commitment to Child Welfare Careers
Gary Anderson, PhD, Michigan State University; Shauna Rienks, PhD, University of Denver; Lyn Slater, PhD, Fordham University; Virginia C. Strand, DSW, Fordham University
Special Issues for American Indian/Alaskan Native Trainees
Nancy Dickinson, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore; Suzanne Cross, Phd, Michigan State University; Virginia Whitekiller, Northeastern State University; Anna deGuzman, MS, University of Denver
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