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School of Social Work addresses national shortage of child welfare workers

School of Social Work, graduates,
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. Allison Corona photo.

The Boise State School of Social Work is combatting a national shortage of child welfare workers with the Title IV-E Idaho Child Welfare Scholar Program, formed in partnership with 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 in exchange for a one- or two-year commitment to work for the Idaho Department of Child and Family Services after graduation. The goal 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 utilized 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. This innovation is made possible through Boise State’s Mobile Learning Scholars Program.

“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,” Reynolds said.

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

“While being in the Title IV-E Idaho Child Welfare Scholar Program, I lived in Twin Falls and professor Reynolds was in Boise,” said Monte Henderson, a 2016 social work graduate. “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.”

Henderson was able 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

“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, a 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.”

Visit Boise State’s Mobile Learning Scholars Program website to learn more.

– By Taylor Music