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NASW Government Relations Update

Fact Sheet: Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program


Title IV-E is the major source of federal funding for educating and training the child welfare workforce. The Title IV-E child welfare training program was created as part of the Child Welfare and Adoption Assistance Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-272) to support training in both foster care and adoption services.

  • The program provides funding for training both current and future child welfare staff.
  • Training may be either short-term or long-term.
  • The federal government provides an enhanced federal match of 75 percent (other administrative costs are matched at 50 percent).
  • The program supports university-agency training partnerships, in which universities may provide the state match through in-kind expenditures on faculty, overhead, and curriculum development.
  • Funds may be used for direct financial assistance (stipends) to students, curriculum development, materials and books, field instructors, distance education, research and evaluation of the program, and incentives for staff recruitment.

Although the Title IV-E training program was created in 1980, it was not until the late 1980s that states began to take advantage of its program benefits. Even today, states are continuing to expand their use of the program to address the critical needs of their child welfare workforces.

  • In fiscal year (FY) 1990, Title IV-E provided about $44 million to states to train child welfare workers. (GAO, November 1993)
  • By FY 1995, IV-E training reimbursements had more than tripled to $142 million. (Ways and Means Green Book, 1996)
  • In FY 2002, 49 states received an estimated $286 million in Title IV-E training reimbursements. Reimbursements ranged from an estimated low of approximately $10,000 in Alaska to a high of more than $79 million in California . (Ways and Means Green Book, 2003)
University-Agency Training Partnerships under Title IV-E

University-agency training partnership programs were developed to ensure that students graduating with degrees in social work were thoroughly prepared for the rigors of child welfare practice.

  • A survey conducted in 1996 found that 68 university social work programs in 29 states were accessing IV-E funds for BSW (bachelor's in social work) and MSW (master's in social work) education. (Zlotnik & Cornelius, 2000) The number of training partnerships continues to grow.
  • Students receiving stipends must commit to employment with the state or county public child welfare agency for a specified period of time—usually one to two years. There is great variation in the amount students receive, ranging from about $800/semester to $7500.
  • The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) found the university-agency training partnerships to be promising practices for addressing the staffing crisis in child welfare, in part by improving both recruitment and retention. (GAO, March 2003)
Training Partnership Models (Zlotnik, 1999)

The flexibility in Title IV-E funding has allowed the creation of different partnership models based on variations in child welfare agencies and social work education programs.

  • Multi-university Collaborations

    Arkansas has a multi-campus consortium, including non-social work programs in some rural communities where child welfare training needs exist but no social work program is available.

    California has a model, which was begun with foundation funding and a Title IV-B, Section 426 grant. After the California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC) at the University of California at Berkeley was created, it sought Title IV-E funding for over 400 social work students. The students included both workers returning to school and students preparing for child welfare careers. CalSWEC created required competencies and did extensive work on researching outcomes. They have a statewide committee of representatives from county child welfare agencies, social work education programs, and the California chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

    Kentucky developed a program targeted at the BSW (bachelor's in social work) level to create a certificate in child welfare. It included all of the state's BSW programs, with some courses taught through distance education. The success of the BSW pilot program led to it being institutionalized and to the creation of a state-wide program to provide MSW (master's in social work) degree education to current child welfare staff.

    Michigan tapped the state NASW chapter to serve as the facilitator for its agency-university partnership. Several years of planning went into their Title IV-E partnership which only became official after child welfare was saved from block granting at the time of welfare reform legislation in 1996. Michigan developed competencies for MSW programs which are included in the frequently used Downs , Costin & McFadden child welfare text.

    Oklahoma began their Title IV-E training efforts as the state was seeking accreditation by the Council on Accreditation (COA) for Children and Families Services. In addition to the degree training efforts, the universities, led by the University of Oklahoma , provide regional consultation to child welfare supervisors to enhance their knowledge and skills.

    Other states are using distance education technologies to deal with rural issues and/or getting the same curricula material to a diverse audience.

Barriers to Expanding Agency-University Training Partnerships

The entitlement status and enhanced federal match at 75 percent have been key ingredients in the success of the Title IV-E training program and the university-agency training partnerships. Eliminating the funding entitlement or putting training costs in competition with costs for services in a fixed-sum grant would seriously jeopardize the continuation of these successful programs.

On the other hand, a few adjustments would further enhance the program's utility as a tool for assisting states in creating a competent and stable child welfare workforce. Those adjustments include:

  • Eliminating requirements for cost allocation based on the percentage of the Title IV-E eligible caseload: All children in the system benefit by better qualified staff, not only children from families meeting the 1996 AFDC income test.
  • Expanding eligibility for training content: Eligible training should include all areas related to meeting the federal goals of safety, permanence, and well-being, and should not be limited to training related to out-of-home placement and/or adoption.
  • Expanding access for reimbursement to private universities and private agency staff: In many jurisdictions, social work education programs at private universities are the most geographically accessible for child welfare workers. However, direct financial participation by private universities is prohibited, which limits access to quality training programs for both current and prospective child welfare staff. The prohibition on the use of IV-E training funding for private agency child welfare staff also should be eliminated.
  • Expanding the 75 percent reimbursement rate to include all real costs of training, both direct and indirect, including the costs of administering the program: Current limitations reduce the number of colleges and universities able to participate in the program.
U.S. General Accounting Office. (November 1993). Foster Care: Federal Policy on Title IV-E Share of Training Costs (GAO/HRD-94-7). Washington , DC : Author.
U.S. General Accounting Office. (March 2003). HHS Could Play a Greater Role in Helping Child Welfare Agencies Recruit and Retain Staff (GAO-03-357). Washington , DC : Author.
Zlotnik, J. L. & Cornelius, L. (2000). Preparing Social Work Students for Child Welfare Careers: The Use of Title IV-E Training Funds in Social Work Education. Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work Education, 51.
Zlotnik, J. L. (2003). The Use of Title IV-E Training Funds for Social Work Education: An Historical Perspective. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 7(1/2), 5-20 .
Zlotnik, J. L. (1999). Promoting Agency-Social Work Education Partnerships to Enhance Child Welfare Service Delivery: A National Perspective. Common Ground, vol. XVI, #1.

August 2004

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