FAU Receives $5.9 Million Grant for Child Welfare Workforce Development

FAU Receives $5.9 Million Grant Renewal from Florida’s Department of Children and Families for Child Welfare Workforce Development

Newswise — Florida Atlantic University received a five-year grant renewal of $5,975,000 for a Title IV-E Child Welfare Education Program from Florida’s Department of Children and Families, for a program designed to educate and train social work graduates to work as child welfare professionals. FAU is serving as the lead institution of the project. It is a collaborative effort with other state schools that are members of the Florida Association of the Deans and Directors of the Schools of Social Work (FADD): Florida A&M University, Florida International University, Florida State University, the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida and the University of West Florida.

“We are so pleased to have received this renewal grant from Florida’s Department of Children and Families,” said FAU President Mary Jane Saunders. “This type of program is a win-win situation for students and for local agencies responding to our community needs. This grant will help educate and train social workers who will be able to work with the complex needs of children in foster care and adoption.”

Students accepted into the program will obtain specialized professional training in child welfare with opportunities for post-graduation employment, which will then enable local agencies to hire qualified child welfare professionals. As part of the collaborative nature of the grant, the deans of social work from the participating universities will work with Florida’s Department of Children and Families to develop budget, policies and curriculum. All of the schools will receive money to hire one to two faculty members whose duties include working individually with stipend students and teaching specialized child welfare courses. In addition, the program offers internships in foster care and adoption agencies. After completion of the stipend program, students have a requirement of employment for one year in a child welfare agency.

“We are at a time when there are many urgent social problems facing our country and the global world, including poverty, child abuse and neglect, family violence, underfunded schools and social welfare programs, and unemployment, to name a few,” said Michele Hawkins, Ph.D., principal investigator of the Title IV-E Child Welfare Education Program and director and professor of the School of Social Work in FAU’s College for Design and Social Inquiry. “To address the growing needs of our communities and the challenges they are facing, it is critical that we train professionals in the areas of child welfare and other social services. Graduate-level trained social workers provide more mental health services than psychologists, psychiatrists or any other mental health profession in the U.S.”

Hawkins is spearheading the program with Patricia Scott, M.S.W., the statewide program coordinator, and Xiaowen Ma, M.B.A., the statewide budget coordinator at FAU.

The Department of Children and Families is one of the state agencies charged with assisting abused and neglected children. According to the Department, in Florida each year, there are between 9,000 and 10,000 children who are removed from their home because they experienced neglect or abuse by a family member. Through programs like the Title IV-E Child Welfare Education Program, today, there are 10,000 fewer children in foster care than three years ago. In November 2009, the number of Florida children in foster care was 19,229 compared to 29,255 in December 2006.

To help meet these demands in South Florida and beyond, the School of Social Work at FAU offers two programs of study, one leading to a Bachelor of Social Work and the other leading to a Master of Social Work. The School is headed by Hawkins whose practice experience includes school social work, legislative policy, couples therapy and work with adults. She previously served on faculty at the National School of Social Service at Catholic University, Washington, DC and the University of Oregon.

- FAU -

About the College for Design and Social InquiryThe College for Design and Social Inquiry is a unique configuration of professional programs offering 11 undergraduate and graduate programs by a nationally acclaimed faculty. The college is composed of five academic units: the School of Architecture; the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice; the School of Public Administration; the School of Social Work; and the School of Urban and Regional Planning. Together they promote safe, healthy and sustainable communities through education, research and design.

About Florida Atlantic University:Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering & Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. For more information, visit www.fau.edu.

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