What is the Child Welfare Stipend Program?
The Title IV-E Child Welfare Stipend Program (CWSP) is a partnership between the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) and four universities within Virginia. This specialized training program, funded through Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, aims to prepare social work students for a career in public child welfare. Each CWSP recipient will receive a $10,000 stipend per academic year, with a work payback requirement.
Program expectations at GMU
- Eligible students must be enrolled in a full-time BSW or MSW program.
- Stipend students must successfully complete two Child Welfare courses (Child Welfare Policy and Child Welfare Practice electives).
- MSW Stipend Recipients must complete one field practicum in a child serving setting, and one field practicum at a local Department of Social Services (primarily in a foster care/adoption, & in-home services).
- BSW Stipend Recipients and MSW Advanced Standing Stipend Recipients must complete one field practicum at a local Department of Social Services (primarily in a foster care/adoption, & in-home services).
- CWSP recipients are required to complete the VDSS new worker state trainings.*
- Accepted students must enroll and attend the weekly Field Practicum & Seminar class for CWSP students.
- Accepted students in the Child Welfare Stipend Program at GMU must attend the synchronous field and seminar class for their cohort. MSW online students are required to attend training sessions and the weekly seminar class in-person held on the GMU Fairfax Campus.
- Students who are in the Title IV-E stipend program cannot also be in the CAP-BH program. If students apply to both and get accepted to both, they will have to choose only one stipend program to attend.
*Mandatory VDSS state trainings vary each academic year. Students will be provided detailed training information after they have been accepted into the program.
Child Welfare Stipend and Program Benefits
In exchange for the $10,000 stipend and extensive child welfare training, accepted students must commit to work at a local Department of Social Service agency within the state of Virginia one (1) calendar year for each academic year the stipend was received. This employment obligation begins six (6) months after graduation. Once a student graduates and begins working for a local DSS agency, the graduate will keep their earned paycheck. Graduates working for local DSS agencies do not repay the stipend to the Virginia Department of Social Services if they obtain a qualifying position.
Program benefits and support at GMU include:
- Workshops relevant to child welfare practice.
- Support with the employment search process.
- Required training through the Commonwealth of Virginia Learning Center.
- Field internship with a local Department of Social Services agency.
- Opportunities to connect with CWSP alumni working in northern Virginia.
Approved Electives for the 2023-2024 CWSP Cohort
Practice: SOCW 483 - Select Topics: Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice - offered Fall 2023
Policy: SOCW 415 - Child and Family Welfare - offered Spring 2024 as a distance education section
MSW on-ground students
Practice: SOCW 677 - Family Therapy - offered Fall 2023 or Spring 2024
Policy: SOCW 654 - Social Policy: Children/Youth - offered Fall 2023 or Spring 2024
MSW online students
Practice: SOCW 677 - Family Therapy
Policy: SOCW 654 - Social Policy: Children/Youth
Accepted MSW online students are required to meet with the CWSP coordinator, Katherine Cornejo, and the MSW online program coordinator, Dr. Daphne King, about the CWSP electives.
To apply, complete the electronic application and submit all supporting documentation by the date indicated on the application. The application packet consists of 4 components.
- Personal statement. Upload on the electronic application form.
- Current resume. Upload on the electronic application form.
- Two (2) professional references. Each student must have two references submitted in support of their application. References must be from professionals who have worked with the applicant or a current/former professor. Students should provide their references with the following electronic form: https://forms.office.com/r/M97QN4WYTp
- Application form. Link to the application: https://redcap.link/CWSPapplication
Personal Statement information
Before writing your personal statement, please review the following podcast:
- Casework: What it Really Takes, by the Child Welfare Information Gateway. https://soundcloud.com/childwelfare/casework-what-it-really-takes
Your statement should answer the following questions:
- Why do you want to work with children and their families?
- If applicable, please describe your experience in child welfare. You may discuss current or past experiences as a volunteer, student, employee, client, etc.
- What are your personal strengths and areas where growth is needed?
- How do you manage competing priorities? Provide examples.
- What are your career goals upon completing a BSW or MSW degree? How will the Child Welfare Stipend Program help you attain your goals?
- Why should Virginia's Department of Social Services invest in your education?
Application deadlines vary by academic level. Please follow the deadline schedule below.
Deadline #1: January 31, 2023
This deadline is for the following students:
- Current full-time BSW students entering their senior year in Fall 2023
- Current full-time MSW on-ground students beginning their 2nd year in Fall 2023
- Current full-time Dual Degree MSW students beginning their 3rd year in Fall 2023
- Current MSW online students with an expected graduation date of May 2024 or May 2025
- Current MSW 3- and 4-years students entering field practicum in Fall 2023
Deadline #2: March 1, 2023
This deadline is for the following students:
- Prospective incoming students for the MSW Advanced Standing program*
- Prospective incoming students for the 2-year MSW program*
- Prospective incoming students for the Dual Degree MSW program*
- Prospective incoming MSW online students with an expected graduation date of May 2025*
*Prospective students: Some applicants may not receive your MSW admission decision prior to the CWSP application date; however, applicants must apply to be considered, as application packets received after the CWSP application deadlines will not be considered.
Application to CWSP and Acceptance into the MSW Program
Applicants should not wait until they receive a decision letter from the MSW program before applying to the Child Welfare Stipend Program. Applicants interested in the MSW Program and Child Welfare Stipend are encouraged to apply to both programs separately within the same time frame. The MSW and CWSP are different programs; however, the application timelines are similar.
Katherine Cornejo, LICSW
Virginia Department of Social Services
The Virginia Department of Social Services is one of the largest Commonwealth agencies, partnering with 120 local departments of social services to promote the well-being of children and families statewide.
- Child Welfare Stipend Program’s – Frequently Asked Questions (pdf)
- Family First Virginia
- Virginia’s Title IV-E Child Welfare Stipend Program Handbook