The Louisiana Child Welfare Workforce Alliance, a partnership between seven public universities in Louisiana who share a federal child welfare program designed to recruit and train social work students for work in child welfare and the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, held their annual Title IV-E Child Welfare Scholars Orientation and Supervisor’s Workshop on Friday August 6, 2021. The partnership among DCFS Southeastern Louisiana University, SUNO, LSU, Southern, ULM, Grambling and Northwestern State University of Louisiana has been in existence for over 25 years.
Each academic year, the universities recruit and then partner with the DCFS to select a group of promising social work students as their “child welfare scholars”. The selection process is a rigorous one in which applicants go through the same structured interview process as any DCFS child welfare worker applicant would. The scholars take specialized child welfare courses, attend trainings and intern at DCFS offices across the state. The program is recognized for helping the state of Louisiana deal with the child welfare workforce challenges that are happening around the country.
Many attendees commented that the scholar orientation is the highlight of their year. The orientation occurs from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm and is structured with welcomes from DCFS Regional Administrators, Area Directors and Field Supervisors. Dr. Rhenda Hodnett, the Louisiana Assistant Secretary of Child Welfare presents a warm welcome to the students, followed by words of welcome and advice from DCFS Regional Administrators, Area Directors and University Alliance Liaisons. I act as the master of ceremonies and guide a panel discussion involving previous child welfare scholars, supervisors, a university partner and DCFS administrators. Student Scholars and DCFS field supervisors split into groups for the afternoon sessions to learn more about the Title IV-E program procedures; they are encouraged to ask questions and are linked to the DCFS staff and University staff who will be there for support. All orientation attendees and looking forward to a promising new year and are hopeful the newly selected child welfare scholars will have an enriching experience and chose a career as a child welfare professional.