Social work program receives $26,873 federal grant

BEMIDJI, Minn. — The social work program at Bemidji State University has received a $26,873 federal grant to support its participation in the Bachelor of Social Work Child Welfare Consortium partnership.

The Child Welfare Consortium is a partnership between the University of Minnesota and the social work departments and programs at: Bemidji State University; Minnesota State University Moorhead; Minnesota State University, Mankato; St. Cloud State University; and Winona State University and the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The Consortium is housed in the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota, School of Social Work.

The goal of the program is to strengthen the preparation of bachelor of social work-educated social workers intending to work in Title IV-E public and tribal child welfare agencies in Minnesota in non-metro areas. Title IV-E grant funds will contribute to the development and introduction of specific child welfare content into modules for required bachelor of social work courses or as specialized elective classes, all subject to the Council on Social Work accreditation.

The Title IV-E grant funds also provide stipends of $1,900 per semester to undergraduate social work students committed to working in public or tribal child welfare. At Bemidji State, six students constituted the first cohort in 2005 to receive stipend support. Of these six, five are now working in public child welfare. In 2006 and in 2007, three students per semester have received stipend support.

In consultation with each department’s Director of Field Instruction, field sites have been selected in which the each student receiving a stipend will complete a minimum of 480 hours of supervised experience in a Title IV-E recipient agency. Upon graduation from the bachelor of social work programs, the students will apply for and accept a social work position in a Title IV-E agency in non-metropolitan areas.

Several county social services directors already enthusiastically anticipate that the collaboration between the Minnesota state universities and the University of Minnesota will significantly boost recruitment and retention of social work-educated social workers in rural areas. They are excited at the prospect of new workers with improved knowledge of child welfare, and are eager to provide internship sites for undergraduate social work students.

Federal funds from Title IV-E of the Social Security Act are the largest federal funding stream for child welfare and foster care services. A key purpose of federal Title IV-E funding is to counteract the trend among states and counties toward deprofessionalization of public child welfare work. It has achieved marked success, in that the number of social work professionals engaged in public child welfare services with bachelor and master’s degrees has significantly increased nationwide.

For information about the Title IV-E, Child Welfare project at Bemidji State University contact: Mary Ann Reitmeir, MSW, LISW, (218) 755-2835.