THE RICHARD STOCKTON COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY

Office of Public Relations

Pomona, NJ  08240

                                                                       

Richard Stockton College to Administer Statewide

Child Welfare Consortium

 

Partnership of Seven New Jersey Undergraduate Social Work Programs Will Prepare Up to 65 Undergraduate Social Work Students a Year to Assume Caseworker Positions in Public Child Welfare

 

For Immediate Release

October 3, 2005

 

Contact: Tim Kelly

     Stockton Public Relations

     (609) 652-4950

 

Galloway Twp. — In partnership with the New Jersey Office of Children’s Services (OCS), The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey has been named as the lead institution in a newly established consortium of baccalaureate social work educational programs. The consortium, known as BCWEP (Baccalaureate Child Welfare Education Program) is an outgrowth of the New Jersey Baccalaureate Social Work Education Association (NJBSWEA). First formed in 1976, the NJBSWEA has long addressed issues affecting social work education at the undergraduate level. For the past two years, NJBSWEA has been exploring ways to partner with New Jersey’s public child welfare system in order to bring additional federal financial resources into the State.

 

Just over one year ago, on September 29, 2004, Stockton College received word that the U.S. Children’s Bureau had awarded it a federal grant under Title IV-B, Section 426, of the Social Security Act. The College was granted $500,000 over five years to target child welfare services in the Southern New Jersey region, particularly Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland Counties. The success of this program in its first year led to interest at the Office of Children’s Services and among other undergraduate social work programs in expanding the program throughout the State.

 

In May of this year, the New Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers assisted NJBSWEA by bringing in Edward W. Sites, Ph.D., a consultant from Pennsylvania’s Child Welfare Education and Research Programs at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work. Guided by the experience of Pennsylvania, NJBSWEA formed a child welfare consortium, now known as BCWEP. Representatives of the seven participating colleges and universities met over the summer to develop a proposal, which resulted in a formal partnership with OCS being established in mid-September.

 

The new consortium will work with OCS to recruit and retain an aspiring group of social work students into the public child welfare workforce. “Research has demonstrated that social work education is particularly appropriate as preparation for the complex role of a child welfare caseworker,” explained

Dr. Diane S. Falk, Associate Professor of Social Work at Stockton College and Principal Investigator for the project.

 

Under the agreement, Stockton College and the Office of Children’s Services will use federal funds available under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act and a state match to support the program. BCWEP will encourage undergraduate social work students enrolled in the seven collaborating colleges and universities to prepare for careers in child welfare. Eligible students will compete for a limited number of traineeships; if successful, for one year they will receive full tuition and fees, a $5,500 stipend, and assistance in purchasing books needed for their child welfare courses. To be eligible, students must declare their intention to prepare for careers in child welfare, take at least one elective course in child welfare at their institution, serve a 400-hour internship at an office of the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), and sign an agreement to work in DYFS for at least one year.

 

In addition to Stockton College, members of the child welfare consortium (BCWEP) include Georgian Court University, Kean University, Monmouth University, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Rutgers University-Newark, and Seton Hall University.

 

For the first year of operation, Stockton College and the New Jersey Office of Children’s Services will work together to make approximately $680,000 in federal and state funds available for support of the Baccalaureate Child Welfare Education Program. Eventually, after the start-up year, nearly 75% of funds will go directly to social work students.

 

Under the consortium agreement, Stockton College Social Work Program faculty members will both administer and provide educational leadership for the Baccalaureate Child Welfare Education Program. Stockton will provide training and consultation to Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) staff members who will supervise the student trainees statewide. In addition, Stockton faculty members will track outcomes of the program and provide assistance to consortium members in curriculum development in child welfare. Local academic coordinators at each of the participating institutions will work to coordinate student applications, oversee internships, and increase the number of internships available at local DYFS offices.

 

John W. Searight, Professor Emeritus of Social Work, will serve as the new project’s Academic and Program Coordinator. Searight said the child welfare workers of the next generation need support and encouragement as they work to gain the knowledge, values and skills needed to manage the responsibilities they will face once they graduate and enter the workforce. “This project will give undergraduate social work students throughout New Jersey the encouragement to enter the field and the financial support to enable them to focus on their learning. We’re excited to have not only Stockton but the other six undergraduate social work programs contributing to the transformation of New Jersey’s child welfare system,” he said.