For prospective social work students with an interest in working in the field of child welfare and child protection, the Title IV-E stipend program is able to provide financial and educational support through participating universities in the United States.

What is the Title IV-E Stipend Program?

In the late 1970’s, government officials and child welfare advocates recognized the need for public funding to support training and education opportunities for current and prospective child welfare professionals. Child welfare professionals without a social work education were found to be less effective in providing services than those who had a social work background, while at the same time the complexity of child welfare clients’ needs was increasing.

This realization led to the creation of Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, part of the Child Welfare and Adoption Assistance Act of 1980, that provides federal matching funds for states administering foster care and adoption assistance programs. In creating Title IV-E, policymakers aimed to “improve the quality of care of children in foster care, reduce the number of children in foster care, return children to their homes as soon as conditions permit, and facilitate the adoption or permanent placement of children who cannot be returned to their homes.”

Some of these funds are specifically designated for staff training purposes, managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families (ACF). Through training funds, the Title IV-E stipend program supports social work education to build and strengthen the child welfare workforce. Training funds are disbursed through university partnerships that provide stipends to Bachelor’s of Social Work (BSW) and Master’s of Social Work (MSW) students “who are employed or preparing for employment in a public child welfare agency.”

Over the last few decades of the program’s operation, it has proven effective in a number of areas, including increasing retention of child welfare professionals and increased levels of job satisfaction among child welfare professionals, according to a University of Houston study.

What Schools Participate?

The University of Houston houses the National Title IV-E website, and maintains a list of all participating universities – including information on eligibility requirements, funding amounts, and paybacks. Students should apply for the Title IV-E program directly through the school, and contact each school’s designated program contact (noted on the list above) with any questions. Additional information, including a list of social work programs that offer a specialization in child welfare, can be found at the Child Welfare Information Gateway website.

RELATED: Compare CSWE-Accredited Online Master of Social Work Degrees.

How Does The Title IV-E Program Work?

Many social work programs offer students the opportunity to specialize in or focus on child welfare. For prospective social work students with an interest in working in the field of child welfare and child protection, the Title IV-E stipend program is able to provide financial and educational support through participating universities in the United States.

Who Is Eligible?

Specific rules and requirements vary by university, but generally, the program is available to those to current child welfare employees and beginning or current BSW and MSW students who commit to a career in child welfare services, which includes roles in foster care settings, adoption placement, and child protection, among others.

Specific eligibility requirements and selection priorities vary by school.

Some schools give priority to current child welfare employees, MSW students, and/or full-time students, though many also include BSW and part-time students in their eligibility guidelines. Most programs require that students maintain “good standing” with the university (through attendance and Grade Point Averages) during their time in the program, and many mandate that Title IV-E students accept field placements in child welfare agencies.

READ MORE: Field of Practice – Child Welfare

What Kind of Compensation Is Available?

The program provides varying levels and combinations of stipend payments (i.e. regular monthly payments), tuition waivers, and in some cases, books and travel costs to students during their social work education. In exchange for the financial support package received, the program has “payback” requirements – meaning that students who receive funding are required to pay it back through service in the child welfare field after graduation. Paybacks also vary by university, but the majority require one year of work in a child welfare agency for every academic year the stipend was received.

Benefits of Becoming a Title IV-E Social Worker

In addition to financial and educational support during social work education, the Title IV-E program has provided a number of other benefits to its alumnae, studies have shown. Title IV-E graduates report having increased knowledge, ethics, coping skills, core competencies, job preparation, and assertiveness, as well as greater knowledge of child welfare than non Title IV-E social workers. The program also boasts a 90% employment rate in the field of child welfare for its graduates, and those who later choose to leave the field of child welfare go on to higher-paying jobs.

READ MORE: Field of Practice – Child Welfare


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