Federal grant helps new social work grads land jobs in-state

October 3 2007

The education requirements and hiring of social workers in Indiana have changed dramatically since Gov. Mitch Daniels created the Department of Child Services in January 2005.

Among the beneficiaries of this reform are students at Indiana State University, not only because of the hundreds of new family case managers being hired, but because of a full-tuition federal grant which includes a job offer upon graduation.

The purpose of the grant -- given to Indiana’s public universities which offer bachelor of social work programs -- is to fill the case manager vacancies as quickly as possible with the top graduates who meet the revised mandatory education requirement of a bachelor’s degree in a child-related field.

Through the Title IV-E Grant for Child Welfare Training, bachelor of social work students receive full tuition; a $2,000 stipend; and are guaranteed a job with the Indiana Department of Child Services, upon graduation, with a salary of about $32,000.

“Through this grant, the bachelor of social work students complete specialized courses which have been developed in conjunction with the Department of Child Services to cover the same topics that are covered in the department’s Training Institute that new employees complete,” said Susan Tielking, Department of Child Services communications director.

The students selected -- through a highly competitive process -- also complete an internship in a DCS office, with a work plan specially developed to cover the tasks and skills needed for a family case manager, and “upon graduation, they are then immediately able to accept a position and begin working in the county offices with a three-week orientation/on-the-job training component,” Tielking said.

Luanne McGowan, ISU social work graduate of Effingham, Ill., was one of five ISU students who received the Title IV-E grant last year. After completing a year-long internship working 20 hours a week at the Department of Child Services for Vigo County in Terre Haute, and graduating in May, McGowan was offered a position with Department of Child Services for Tippecanoe County in Lafayette.

“During my internship, I was co-assigned to cases with a family case manager, where I was able to take the lead on cases,” McGowan said. “This has really helped me now that I am a family case manager level-II in the on-going unit, because I already have the actual training and knowledge, which has brought to life what I learned in the classroom.”

The other four Title IV-E graduates also obtained positions with Department of Child Services offices throughout the state after their graduation in May. Two ISU social work seniors are recipients of the grant this year -- Amanda Combs, who is interning with the Department of Child Services for Greene County, and Amanda Ross, who is at the Department of Child Services for Vigo County.

Peggy Weber, field coordinator and assistant professor of social work at ISU, said the internship provided with the grant gives students a head start on the work they’ll be doing after graduation.

“I think that there’s a real advantage to having this extra training and advantage in having social workers employed in this position based upon the training and the knowledge that they get while they’re students,” she said. “I think that could be a real benefit for the future, because they’ll have more awareness and knowledge as they start out.”

The students’ knowledge will extend beyond their textbooks. Through their internships, Weber said, students shadow case workers -- making home visits, listening to calls about abuse and neglect, attending court hearings and supervising visits between children and their families.

The students’ internship though the Title IV-E grant benefits more than just the students. It also helps the children and families the students will work with in their future careers.

Robyn Lugar, chairperson for the Department of Social Work at Indiana State, said this grant is creating “consistently trained” social workers.

“It benefits the community because we’re going to have trained people in that position, consistently trained,” she said. “The social workers are going to be much more prepared going into the system.”

The Title IV-E grant is contracted to Indiana University-Purdue University and subcontracted to Indiana’s four public universities which offer social work programs -- Indiana State University, Indiana University, Ball State University and University of Southern Indiana.

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PHOTO: (Download high-res photo at link below)
Luanne McGowan at internship

CAPTION: Luanne McGowan (right) of Effingham, Ill., Indiana State University social work graduate, worked 20 hours a week at the Department of Child Services for Vigo County in Terre Haute as part of the Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program grant she received. Pictured with McGowan is Debbie Long, a family case manager. (Tony Campbell/ISU)

CONTACT: Robyn Lugar chair and assistant professor of social work, Indiana State University, rlugar@indstate.edu or (812) 237-3428.

WRITER: Katie Spanuello, media relations assistant director, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3790, kspanuello@isugw.indstate.edu

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Story Highlights

Through the Title IV-E Grant for Child Welfare Training, bachelor of social work students receive full tuition; a $2,000 stipend; and are guaranteed a job with the Indiana Department of Child Services, upon graduation, with a salary of about $32,000.

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