ISU Headlines

New Idaho State University training program for child welfare workers is a boon to Idaho’s children, families

Posted July 1, 2011

A new approach to training child welfare workers in Idaho, which features onsite trainers at locations throughout the state, has been implemented by the Idaho State University Department of Social Work, Sociology and Criminal Justice in collaboration with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

"I feel like this contract will make a difference for children and families in Idaho," said Staci Jensen-Hart, ISU assistant professor of social work. "Child welfare workers have such an important and hard, hard job, and their burn-out rates our high because they're working with high-risk children and that is difficult.  We want to give them the best training and support we can."

The new program is based on current best practices as determined by evidenced-based research. The new program, in the first of three years, takes an overall approach to training child welfare workers. The onsite trainers in Department of Health and Welfare Regional offices offer a variety of services.

"The trainers are on-site to offer mentoring, coaching and training to new and experienced child welfare workers," Jensen-Hart said. "Training new professionals is important, but we also want to continue to build the skills and support seasoned workers."

People learn better with a hands-on approach and benefit from follow-through by the trainers, she said. The trainers also work with supervisors to create learning circles and develop problem-solving skills.

"This is a new concept for the state," said Staci Jensen-Hart, ISU assistant professor of social work. "Before, child welfare training was always an academy process, with workers traveling to a location to attend training. Our new approach brings the training to the professionals, often on-site where they work."

The new program, funded by a contract with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, has other benefits as well.

"Administering this program is a boon for Idaho State University students and faculty, and the community, too," Jensen-Hart said. "The University offers research expertise and theoretical information, and that information is taken to the field and practiced. We then get feedback on the application of research, and in turn, we can modify our practices in improving the preparation of students for work in the field."

It all adds up for better training for Idaho's child welfare workers, to the benefit of the state's children and families.

###