Child Welfare Scholars Program

Public child welfare social workers serve some of the most vulnerable children, youth and families in need in the state of California.

In service to the goals of diversifying and professionalizing the workforce, the Berkeley Child Welfare Scholars Program prepares selected MSW students for careers in public child welfare.

About Child Welfare Scholars

Child Welfare Scholars (CWS) is Berkeley Social Welfare's Title IV-E public child welfare training program, which is administered by the California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC).

The Child Welfare Scholars Program provides support for graduate social work students who intend to pursue or continue a career in the field of public child welfare. Students selected to participate as Child Welfare Scholars receive an annual training stipend (currently $18,500 per year for up to two academic years), in exchange for a post-graduation work commitment of at least two years in a California county public child welfare service agency.

Berkeley Child Welfare Scholars complete a specialized curriculum that includes two years of social work practicum placement in either a county child welfare unit, or a closely related agency serving child welfare clients. Academic coursework, child welfare internships and practicum seminars emphasize working with children and families who have incidents of abuse and neglect, and address the unique challenges that families in this system endure and present to their workers. World-renowned policy and practice instructors and researchers expose students to the most current research being conducted in public child welfare. Clinical instructors with significant employment experience in public child welfare provide practice courses and coordinate internships

Child Welfare Scholars are required to do their second-year social work practicum placement within a county public child welfare program, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) or, for those who qualify, a tribal or reservation program.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligible students who have been accepted for admission to the Berkeley Social Welfare MSW Program may apply to be considered for the Child Welfare Scholars Program. Child Welfare Scholars Program applications are submitted directly to the online application for admission to graduate study at Berkeley. Selected applicants are invited to a panel interview with Berkeley MSW Program faculty and county child welfare agency representatives as part of the selection process, which occurs separately from the annual admissions process.

To be eligible for consideration in the CWS stipend-based training program, students must meet the following requirements:

  1. Child Welfare Scholars must be accepted for admission to the Berkeley Social Welfare MSW Program. Participation in the Child Welfare Scholars Program precludes enrollment in any concurrent degree programs.
  2. Students must be enrolled full-time for the duration of the program, remain in good academic standing, and complete their MSW degree at Berkeley.
  3. Participating Scholars should be eligible to work in the State of California upon graduation. Students who are not eligible to work in the United States are not eligible to participate in the CWS program.
  4. Students must have a valid driver's license, and be able to commit to securing the use of a car as required for field placement.
  5. Prior to accepting any field placement or county employment, Child Welfare Scholars stipend recipients are required to complete a criminal background check and DMV pre-screening.

Post-Graduation Work Commitment

Upon graduation students must work in a position appropriate to a new MSW in child welfare services with a county child welfare services agency or the CDSS child welfare division or, for those who qualify, a tribal or reservation program, for a period of two years. Students must obtain full-time employment at a California county child welfare agency within one year of graduation.

A Child Welfare Scholars Program graduate who is employed in a county or state DSS, and who gets that agency’s leave of absence and recommendation, must return to that agency and render two years of continuous and satisfactory full-time employment at a level appropriate to a new MSW in return for the two-year stipend award. If a position meeting these requirements is not available in the agency to which service is owed, the student must apply for and accept an equivalent or higher position in another CWS office as noted above.