The Title IV-E Public Child Welfare Training Program (CWTP) serves child welfare professionals who are seeking to earn a bachelor’s in social work (BSW) degree with an emphasis in family and child welfare.

The program is a partnership between UW-Milwaukee’s Helen Bader School of Social Welfare and the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. The program is designed to help support the quality and retention of child welfare staff in the state of Wisconsin. Students who are admitted to the program complete a field placement at a child welfare agency and then are required to complete a work obligation at the agency where they completed their field placement.

Financial Assistance

  • Tuition and fees
  • Book allowance

Application Requirements

  1. Watch the job preview video developed by the State of Wisconsin Department of Children and Families.
  2. A current resume including work and volunteer experience that reflects your social work knowledge and skills.
  3. A copy of your current transcript (it can be unofficial).
  4. A personal statement including the following points:
    1. Explain why you wish to pursue a career in public child welfare:
      • What experience do you have that would support your work in public child welfare?
      • What experience do you have working with individuals who are different than you? What have you learned from these kinds of experiences?
      • What are your career goals over the next five years?
    2. Choose a current challenge in child welfare practice and describe how you hope to be part of the solution:
      • Racial disproportionality
      • Number of children being removed from the home and placed in foster care.
      • Turnover among the workforce.
      • Teens aging out of foster care with few formal and informal supports.
      • A challenge of your choice.
  5. Letter of recommendation from a faculty member or employment or volunteer supervisor who knows you well and can attest to your likelihood of success as a child welfare professional.


What is Public Child Welfare?

Public child welfare includes child protective services performed by the state and counties in Wisconsin. Primarily, these roles investigate child abuse and neglect and provide services to support children and families who are in or at risk of out-of-home care.

Who is eligible to participate?

Students are recruited into the Child Welfare Training Program (CWTP) during the year prior to their enrollment in Social Work 421 (field placement). Students should have a minimum GPA of 2.5.

What kind of financial support do students receive?

Beginning the semester they begin their field placement (Social Work 421), students receive support for all tuition, fees, and a book stipend.

How many students are accepted each year?

The number of students accepted each year is dependent upon the approved budget from the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF). This is typically two students per year.

What happens after I’m admitted into the program?

Students will continue with the academic plan that they developed with their academic advisor. The Child Welfare Training Program will make arrangements for your field placement at the child welfare placement where you were accepted. The program will continue to monitor your grades and progress to ensure that you still qualify for financial support.

Where will I complete a field placement?

Students will have the opportunity to interview with a child welfare agency in Milwaukee or surrounding counties based on the student’s preference and placement availability.

What is the student work obligation that must be fulfilled upon graduation?

Students are required to seek employment at the agency where they completed their field placement. Upon hire, they are required to maintain their employment for the same amount of time that they were supported in the program (usually around one year). Graduates receive the same pay, benefits, etc., as any other employee.

What if the agency where I completed my field placement does not hire me or does not have employment openings at the time of graduation?

Students will be required to apply at three additional qualifying public child welfare agencies within 90 miles of Milwaukee. More details are available in the student traineeship agreement.

Will I receive assistance in obtaining employment from UWM?

Yes! You will receive assistance in locating openings at qualifying public child welfare agencies. You will also receive assistance with a resume review, interview practice and more.

What if I decide I don’t want to work in child welfare or leave my employment early?

If a participant does not complete their work obligation, they will be required to pay back a pro-rated amount of the total support that they received. For example, if the program paid $10,000 and you completed 30% of your payback obligation time, you would owe $7,000.

Can I get a deferment on my work obligation if I plan to go to graduate school right away?

Unfortunately, this is not currently an option. Students are encouraged to either wait to attend graduate school until after they complete their work obligation or attend graduate school part-time.

Johanna Barkei, MSW
Project Manager

Current and prospective students should contact Johanna Barkei with any questions or concerns.

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Deadline to Apply: April 1, 2024