History of the Program

Public child welfare services in the United States have long struggled with finding and keeping well-prepared frontline workers. While there are many reasons for this, key factors are the difficulty of the job, the lack of understanding of what that job is all about and giving the new worker enough time to be prepared for the challenges.

In 1996 the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services and the University Training Consortium identified a breakthrough approach to this problem. Select BSW Social Work Programs and the training division of DCBS designed a recruitment, preparation and retention system that has produced exceptional outcomes. The program which targets junior level BSW students provides tuition, a stipend and a special concentration in public child welfare training including special practicums, retreats and mentoring to the students for their final two years in the BSW program.

Since the PCWCP program's inception, over 800 well-prepared workers have been added to the DCBS workforce. Retention for the PCWCP program is extremely good through the second year of employment. Over the past 13 years the percent of graduates remain with the Cabinet after two years of employment ranges between 79% and 88%. Further study of the program has also indicated that these workers are better prepared for their job and are not as overwhelmed by the difficulties.

Two elements are needed for the program: support of the agency for recruitment and retention of workers and a solid partnership between the agency and university system.