Georgia State’s School Of Social Work & Partners Start Child Welfare Workforce Leadership Program

Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) has named the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (GA-DFCS), Georgia State University and the University of Georgia one of eight national NCWWI Agency-University Partnership Workforce Excellence sites.

The program will bring Georgia more than $1 million over five years to develop supervisory leadership across the state’s child welfare workforce.

Georgia State’s School of Social Work will receive $579,000 as a Workforce Excellence partner with GA-DFCS. The grant will cover the tuition and fees and provide stipends to Master of Social Work students—many of them DFCS employees—who are accepted into the competitive program. In exchange, they will join or return to the GA-DFCS workforce upon graduation.

“We’ve provided workforce development geared towards improving Georgia’s child welfare workforce for years through our Title IV-E, Professional Excellence and Child Welfare Training Collaborative programs,” said Distinguished University Professor Brian Bride, director of Georgia State’s School of Social Work. “The difference with this program is its focus around leadership and workforce development, and organizational change to improve outcomes.”

The School of Social Work, in Georgia State’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, has a history of creating innovative partnerships and building strong relationships with GA-DFCS and the University of Georgia.

“This may be, in part, why the partnership’s proposal was successful,” said Robin Hartinger-Saunders, director of the Title IV-E program at Georgia State and an associate professor of social work who will manage the NCWWI program for the university.

She credits the expertise of Georgia State’s faculty and staff.

“Professor Deb Whitley provides outstanding leadership managing the administrative arm for the Title IV-E programs across the state,” Hartinger-Saunders said, “and under the leadership of professor Elizabeth Beck and Sheila Blanton, the Professional Excellence Program continues to advance child welfare practice here in Georgia. And most of our faculty, in some way, are engaged in research that examines issues directly related to children, families or organizational aspects of the child welfare system.”

The university partners will introduce the Workforce Excellence program in June with a Comprehensive Organizational Health Assessment of DFCS and will enroll their first cohorts of M.S.W. students in the fall.

Hartinger-Saunders expects the program, by implementing organizational strategies to improve the workforce, will provide better outcomes for Georgia’s children and families.