The Child Welfare Education and Research Programs (CWERP) are an integrated continuum of degree education and professional development programs designed to strengthen the public child welfare workforce in Pennsylvania. The continuum includes two degree education programs, Child Welfare Education for Baccalaureates (CWEB) and Child Welfare Education for Leadership (CWEL), which operate in collaboration with 17 schools of social work across the state. Training, technical assistance, transfer of learning, organizational development, and support for best practices is provided to the staff and administrators of the 67 county child and youth jurisdictions in Pennsylvania through the University of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center. This integrated array of programs is administered by Pitt’s School of Social Work in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ Office of Children, Youth and Families and Pennsylvania Children and Youth Administrators.
Pennsylvania’s professional development programs provide a network of workforce strategies aimed at making meaningful, sustained change in the public child welfare system by increasing the capacity of the direct service and administrative staff who provide services to children, youths, and families. The following program accomplishments highlight the remarkable success of the CWERP continuum:
Since 2018, 1,162 CWEB graduates have entered the Pennsylvania public child welfare workforce.
Since 2018, 1,382 child welfare professionals have earned Master of Social Work degrees.
More than one out of every four public child welfare positions in Pennsylvania is held by a CWEB or CWEL graduate or a current CWEL student.
More than 1.2 million licensed professionals have received training in the mandated and permissive reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect through an online education program developed and maintained by the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center.
More than 1,000 current or former foster youths ages 16–21 have attended a weeklong retreat at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, where they focus on goal setting, planning, advocacy, and leadership while building relationships and experiencing college life.
More than 1,400 training sessions were provided to the child welfare workforce in one calendar year.
A five-year federally funded child welfare demonstration project focusing on enhanced assessment, family engagement, and the implementation of evidence-based practices is
Support of the Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board has included working with more than 300 youths in the foster care system in statewide and regional forums to advocate for improved practices, inclusion of youth perspectives, and better-informed young persons.
New teaching modalities, such as simulation and team-based learning, have been incorporated into training to better prepare caseworkers and supervisors for child welfare practice.
Forty-four online course options were provided to more than 6,000 participants in one calendar year.
Advocacy for child welfare policy and practice improvement has included oversight of citizen review panels across the state, support for the implementation of legislation such as the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (P.L. 113-183), and assistance with federal Child & Family Services Reviews.
Testimony on professional education and training was provided to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Children & Youth Committee and at a congressional briefing held in Washington, D.C.
An Academic Excellence Award was given to the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center in 2012 by the American Public Human Services Association. In 2014, the center received the Youth Thrive Award from the Center for the Study of Social Policy.
More than 100 University of Pittsburgh faculty and staff members work to improve the caliber of the public child welfare workforce and the service outcomes experienced by children, youths, and families through CWERP. Seventeen schools of social work and the staff and administrators of 67 public child welfare agencies across the state have contributed to and benefited from the success of this remarkable endeavor. The investment in child welfare studies that was made by the University more than 100 years ago has clearly exceeded expectations.
2018 Annual Older Youth Retreat in Johnstown, Pa., sponsored by the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center