Our Program

The Importance of
Well-Prepared Frontline Workers

Public child welfare services in the United States have long struggled with finding and keeping well-prepared frontline workers. Key factors are the difficulty of the job, the lack of understanding of job expectations, and giving the new worker enough time to be prepared for the challenges.  

In 1996, the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) and the Training Resource Center (TRC) identified a breakthrough approach to this problem. Select Bachelor Social Work (BSW) Programs and the training division of DCBS designed a recruitment, preparation, and retention system that has produced exceptional outcomes. This creative partnership serves as a national model for pre-employment preparation for workers to help improve child welfare services.

Social Worker working with young mother.

PCWCP has empowered and prepared me as I’ve transitioned from a student role into a full-time worker. This program has instilled confidence in myself as a worker and given me the ability to go out each day and aim to do the same thing for others.

- Courtney Howe, SSWI, BSW
Eastern Kentucky University | Spring 2023 PCWCP Graduate

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Our Reliable Process

The Public Child Welfare Certification Program (PCWCP) is a pre-service education and training program designed to support the recruitment and retention of public child welfare workers. The program offers Bachelor Social Work juniors and seniors their academic program in conjunction with participating in the Cabinet's child welfare training curricula before graduation. These students are provided in-state tuition, a stipend, and a particular concentration in public child welfare training, including special practicums, retreats, and mentoring for their final two years in the BSW program. 

Since the inception of PCWCP, over 1,100 well-prepared graduates from eleven university undergraduate social work programs have been successful in the DCBS workforce. Over recent years, retention for PCWCP has remained between 79% and 88% after two years of employment.  In addition to the social work foundation and practical, real-world experience, PCWCP graduates bring established connections with a support system of peers, practicum supervisors, university faculty, program administrators, and coordinators.

This combination of special preparation and support results in positive outcomes for PCWCP graduates and the agency, as indicated in ongoing evaluation results. 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 the university system.


Become a PCWCP Student
The Public Child Welfare Certification Program is a program of Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Eastern Kentucky University Training Resource Center (EKU-TRC) is the program administrator | EKU-TRC is a proud partner of the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services | All Rights Reserved