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December 8, 2011

ULM child welfare program one of seven statewide to receive grant funds

The University of Louisiana at Monroe Social Work Department's Title IV-E Welfare Program is one of only seven programs in the state awarded grant funds to help propel its students into careers in social work.

This grant, which provides senior students with child welfare training, has resulted in an increased number of social work undergraduates becoming employed with the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services.

The overall goal is to improve permanency, safety, and well-being of children. This is made possible by the recruiting, training and supervising of child welfare professionals.

The primary goals of the program are to attract and prepare potential students for work in public child welfare, embrace the child-centered and family-focus philosophy, and enhance the skills of DCFS employees.

Currently, the child welfare grant and the La Scholar program award stipends in the amount of $6,500 to six deserving students on a competitive basis.

While interning, these students receive the same training as DCFS workers, leaving them with on-the-job training experience and teachable moments that cannot be gained in the classroom.

Andrea Savage, a ULM social work graduate, is the coordinator of the program.

"This is an awesome opportunity afforded to senior social work students," said Savage. "It is my hope that more students will take advantage of this opportunity."

The grant does more than just help students gain the necessary training to become social workers.

The grant provides travel to national conferences for faculty and students, and allows for the ULM Social Work Department to host one to two "Families in Focus Seminars" yearly.

It also helps purchase office supplies for the ULM Social Work Department along with books and computers.

The "Families in Focus Seminars" offer training to area social workers and other professionals.

Those who present at these conferences are often nationally known for their expertise in child welfare and other topics of importance to social workers and human service providers.

Most importantly, the grant guarantees that 100 percent of the child welfare students are employed in child welfare jobs upon graduating (with the exception of those who want to attend graduate school).

Those who do attend graduate school receive a deferment, and, after they graduate, are then offered a job.

"The whole idea is to go to college, obtain a degree and locate a job in that particular degree area," continued Savage.

"Due to the hiring freeze within the state, Title IV-E students and Louisiana Scholar students are the only individuals being hired by the Department of Children and Family Services. As a result, students have a guaranteed job waiting for them because of a special waiver from the governor for hiring these specially trained individuals."

Since 2003, over 38 students, all who received child welfare training, have been offered jobs.

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