Partnership between DSHS, universities is good move

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Training for social workers will now be done by the University of Washington and Eastern Washington University.

Social work has always been a challenge, but it's even more so today. Social workers face myriad issues in dealing with families in need of state assistance and services.

But a new partnership between the state Department of Social and Health services and two state universities -- the University of Washington and Eastern Washington University -- has the potential to prepare state social workers for the challenges they will face on a daily basis.

Training for new and current social workers will now be handled by the universities rather than DSHS. This plan has been in the works since 2009, according to The Seattle Times.

Earlier this year 30 DSHS social-worker trainers were transferred from DSHS' Children's Administration to the UW to create the Washington State Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence. The training program is linked to the schools of social work at the UW's main campus, UW Tacoma and Eastern Washington University in Cheney, according to DSHS.

"It wasn't that training was bad in Washington. We could just do much more," said Edwina "Eddie" Uehara, who is dean of UW's School of Social Work. "This alliance permanently brings together the experience of the Children's Administration, the UW and Eastern Washington University. This will provide cutting-edge, competency-based, evidence-based training. There is so much at stake here."

This change in the approach to training offers greater access to information and professional teaching methods. Those who teach social work at the UW and Eastern can take a broader view of social work as they look at changes in approach as well as what works well, and not so well, in Washington and other states.

This partnership should also allow for more ongoing training for established caseworkers

In addition, parents who are taking in foster children, relatives children or who are adopting will be able to get training from the universities. The arrangement should be particularly helpful to parents in rural Eastern Washington who now must use online training.

Those taking children into their homes will now be able to have more one-on-one time with child-welfare experts.

Combining the training resources of DSHS and state universities is a cost-effective way to benefit DSHS and the schools. The training should improve. The schools of social work will gain experience and insight that will ultimately improve their programs.

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