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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 11, 2003

UI Wins $1 Million Federal Grant For Child Welfare Improvements

A five-year, $1 million federal grant to the University of Iowa School of Social Work will enable the school to collaborate with the Iowa Department of Human Services to develop programs to improve recruitment and retention of public child welfare workers.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families will provide $200,000 each year for five years for development, implementation and evaluation of a statewide training program for public child welfare employees, with a special emphasis on supervisors. The grant will also support educational opportunities for social work students interested in pursuing professional careers in public child welfare and involve the School of Social Work's four graduate programs (Iowa City, Des Moines, Quad Cities and Sioux City) in recruitment efforts to increase the diversity of the public child welfare workforce.

Miriam Landsman, an assistant professor of social work and Executive Director of the school's National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice, is the grant's principal investigator. She is also an affiliated scholar with the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies.

"Recruitment and retention have long been challenges for public child welfare agencies nationally," Landsman said. "This is the first time that significant federal resources have been allocated to develop and evaluate strategies that address organizational issues affecting the ability of child welfare agencies to attract and keep well-qualified employees."

The project comes at a critical time in Iowa, Landsman said. State budget cuts in recent years have reduced the size of the child welfare workforce, especially at the supervisory and administrative levels. The timing of this grant will enable Landsman and her colleagues to assist with the implementation of two current initiatives of the Department of Human Services -- the Child and Family Service Review Program Improvement Plan and the redesign of the child welfare/juvenile justice system. The grant will also contribute to the research base in understanding and improving the effectiveness of interventions designed to enhance recruitment and retention.

The UI School of Social Work is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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