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School of Social Work Combats Shortage with Innovative Scholars Program

School of Social Work, graduates, Allison Corona photo
May 2019 Scholars Program graduate class. Top row – left to right – Emily Graichen, Freddy Nyakulinda, Brandi Barklow, Gabe Carrillo. Bottom row – left to right – Alyssa Reynolds IV-E Scholars Coordinator- Isa Noriega, Amorette Rosental, Nondo Mialano.

The Boise State School of Social Work is working to combat the shortage of child welfare workers the country is currently facing with the Title IV-E Idaho Child Welfare Scholar Program, a program formed through a partnership between the School and the Idaho Department of Child and Family Services.

Organized by Alyssa Reynolds, scholars coordinator for the School of Social Work, the program is an opportunity for School of Social Work students interested in completing their field practicum at the Idaho Department of Child and Family Services, to receive tuition reimbursement for each year they commit (one or two years) to working for the Idaho Department of Child and Family Services after graduation. The purpose of this program is to recruit and retain qualified staff in child welfare practice with specialization in the areas of foster care and adoptions.

However, because there are seven regions within the Idaho Department of Child and Family Services, the scholar’s program within the School of Social Work must serve and accommodate students across the entire state. Reynolds, who additionally serves as the coordinator for all seven regions of Idaho, has innovatively adapted the program by utilizing technology to expand access to Title IV-E students in rural Idaho who otherwise would not be able to connect to other social work students.

“In an effort to reach social work students in rural Idaho, we came up with the idea of equipping each of the students in the program with an iPad and utilize the application of Zoom to engage and reach all students across the state,” said Reynolds. “This has also been achieved through the support of the Mobile Scholars Program at Boise State that allows us to increase access, save time, and expose rural students to new technologies they may not have been able to obtain until now.”

In addition to Boise State’s School of Social Work, Idaho State University, and Lewis and Clark State College have a similar scholars program in partnership with the Idaho Department of Child and Family Services.

“The Title IV-E Idaho Child Welfare Scholar Program allowed me to learn about the different aspects of child welfare while still in school, get financial assistance for my educational needs, and obtain employment at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Children and Family Services after graduating,” said Monte Henderson, a 2016 Bachelor of Social Work graduate. “As a full time college student, I was also working full time to support my family. We did not have a lot of money and there was concern about getting a better job after graduating.”

“While being in the Title IV-E Idaho Child Welfare Scholar Program, I lived in Twin Falls, Idaho and professor Reynolds was in Boise. She was like my own over-the-phone personal cheerleader. Whenever I had questions or needed help, she responded quickly with either a phone call or an email. She is most certainly an asset to the program and Boise State University.”

“I am exceptionally grateful for the Title IV-E Idaho Child Welfare Scholar Program because it has allowed my dreams of obtaining an education come true,” said Isa Noriega, May 2019 master of social work graduate. “I am fortunate to have the opportunity to secure a job right after graduation with Idaho Child Health and Welfare and most of all, I am beyond thankful to professor Reynolds for being supportive during the entire process.”

-By Taylor Music