Colorado child welfare stipend program pays off

August 1, 2019

In 1995, in recognition of the need to support the career development of child welfare caseworkers, the Division of Child Welfare introduced a stipend program for educational expenses for undergrad and grad social work students.

Since 1995, the stipend program has:

  • Awarded stipends to 973 students (students can receive up to two stipends)
  • Invested more than $7 million in Colorado’s child welfare workforce

A 10-year cohort study was conducted in 2018 to understand program graduates’ experiences with organizational commitment, the impact of stipends on child welfare professional identity and desire to remain in the child welfare field. The study involved 245 stipend graduates who earned a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and Master of Social Work (MSW) between 2006 and 2016.

The results indicate stipend graduates continued to work at a county child welfare agency beyond payback period (one year for each stipend received), they felt prepared for the job, appreciated the skills and networks gained from their programs, and they expressed gratitude for the financial assistance. Graduates also identified workforce factors including peer support, supervisor support and mobility in the agency as key retention sources for remaining in child welfare. 

“We know the financial support is important,” Kathy Clark, Stipend IV-E & Training Certification Specialist at the Division for Child Welfare, said, “but stipend graduates also told us that the collaboration between Colorado universities and county agencies created a supportive learning environment that prepared them to be successful in their careers.”

 In fact, graduates who were new to child welfare agreed that being part of the stipend program helped give them an edge in the hiring process after graduation, in that being a stipend recipient showed county agencies that they were committed to child welfare work in Colorado. For those already working in child welfare, being part of the stipend program helped them re-commit to child welfare and extended their tenure at their agencies.

 The stipend program is run in partnership between the CDHS Division of Child Welfare, Metropolitan State University of Denver, University of Denver, Colorado State University-Ft. Collins and Colorado State University-Pueblo. Several of the universities’ distance learning programs allow individuals across the state to participate.

For more information about the Child Welfare Stipend Program, kathy.clark@state.co.us

Download the fact sheet and program history.

Download the 10-year cohort study.

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