The UMD Department of Social Work has announced the creation of the UMD Center for Regional and Tribal Child Welfare Studies. The purpose of the Center is to coordinate and enhance the activities of the Department related to child welfare education and research. This Center will build upon the activities of the Title IV-e Child Welfare Training Project, which has been an important component of the Department of Social Work since 1998.
The mission of the Center is to promote the development of culturally competent advanced generalist social workers, practitioners, and leaders to serve at-risk children and their families through county and tribal agencies, focusing on Northern Minnesota. The Center's name emphasizes its commitment to serve the child welfare needs of Northern Minnesota, with a special focus on tribal communities. The Center will also promote interdisciplinary child welfare-related initiatives within the university.
The Center will continue the work of the TITLE IV-E Training Project in promoting child welfare education, training, research, evaluation, and community outreach activities. Since its establishment eight years ago, the Project, in conjunction with the Social Work Department's American Indian Projects, has secured over $8 million dollars in external funding. Through this and support from UMD and the College of Education and Human Service Professions, it has developed training partnerships with 18 counties and reservations throughout Northern Minnesota. The primary objective has been to prepare skilled, culturally competent, Masters level social workers to work in county and tribal agencies serving at-risk children and their families. This mission is consistent with the federal government's concern with providing child welfare workers with the expertise needed to address the complex challenges of child maltreatment and its prevention.
In October of 2004, the Department was one of only five universities in the country to receive a $400,000 grant from the United States Children's Bureau to enhance the preparation of Masters of Social Work (MSW) students for employment in critical placements such as tribal and/or public sector child welfare settings. This grant will be coordinated with the newly formed Center.
According to the Professor Dennis Falk, the Center's Director: "The UMD Department of Social Work has become a leader in educating MSW students for effective intervention in families where child maltreatment has occurred. Receiving this [designation] recognizes that leadership position, and will further enhance our ability to prepare child welfare practitioners who will promote safety for at-risk children in Northern Minnesota."
The Center designation will provide greater focus and visibility to the activities of the Department related to Regional and Tribal Child Welfare Studies. The identity as a Center will also enable the Department to obtain broader funding, to be more easily recognized by stakeholders, and to attract other faculty collaborators.
The faculty and staff of the Center will be comprised of individuals already associated with the Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Project. Dennis Falk will serve as Center Director; Karen Preston Nichols will become the Center Associate Administrator; Johanna Garrison, Becki Hornung, Kathy Heltzer, Anne Tellett, and John Day will become Center Coordinators.