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Welfare workers to get extra training at Pitt

School of Social Work to run statewide sessions

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

By Bill Schackner, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The University of Pittsburgh has been hired to administer $20.5 million in training programs for child welfare workers across the state.

The contract involves the university's School of Social Work and was announced at a campus news conference Monday.

It is the first time that practical training and formal education of those workers have been placed under one umbrella, said Robert Stefan, western region director of the state Department of Public Welfare's Office of Children, Youth and Families.

Much of the money will flow through Pitt to the training programs and those enrolled in them. But about 30 faculty, administrators and researchers are expected to be hired to support the effort across the state, said Edward Sites, a social work professor and director of the program.

Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg said the money would help advance efforts to protect children from abuse and "cements our place as the home of one of the outstanding schools of social work."

Sites said the money was nearly twice the existing level of funding for those programs. He said better trained workers "are going to miss fewer signs of abuse and neglect and are going to be in a better position to provide the services that children and their families need."

Pitt will work with 15 other Pennsylvania universities, Pennsylvania Children and Youth Administrators Inc. and individual counties that employ the state's 3,800 caseworkers, supervisors, managers and administrators.

The money will be aimed at five training areas, one existing and the others new.

The existing program, the Child Welfare Education for Leadership, provides graduate social work degrees with a child welfare specialization for children and youth agency employees statewide. The goal is to enlarge enrollment from 90 to 165.

A new program, Child Welfare Education for Baccalaureates, will provide social work degrees with child welfare content for undergraduates at 14 universities. The money will be used to recruit undergraduates to go into child welfare social work degree programs under an arrangement in which their tuition will be subsidized in return for their service as workers.

Another training program will offer 10,000 days of training for the state's child welfare workers.

Money also will go toward training and technical support for the independent living programs in each county. This program helps foster children 18 and older survive on their own.

Money also will go to train county staff who use the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Information System, a management information system mandated by the federal government.

Last year, there were 22,809 reported cases of child abuse in the state, according to Allegheny County's Children, Youth and Families agency. Of those, 5,002, or 22 percent, were substantiated.

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