Title IV-E Scholar Profiles
Careers? Work/life balance? Rural participation?
Title IV-E program checks all the boxes for social work students
For nearly two decades, a select group of Boise State students have achieved the nearly impossible: avoided significant student debt while at the same time carving out meaningful careers that start before graduation.
What’s the secret?
A federal funding program, known as Title IV-E, that makes available generous stipends for students embarking on social work degrees.
Through the Title IV-E training funding, state child welfare agencies partner with social work education programs to strengthen and professionalize the child welfare workforce. Since the late 1980s, the training provision of Title IV-E of the Social Security Act created as part of the Child Welfare and Adoption Assistance Act of 1980, has been a major public funding source supporting staff training and the opportunity for current and prospective employees to earn bachelor and master’s degrees in social work. Boise State has been part of the scholars stipend program since 2003; Idaho State University and Lewis-Clark State College also participate.
The program is unusual — and unusually effective — at offsetting the costs of education, training new social workers, building a workforce, educating rural residents and placing them in desirable jobs and supporting vulnerable populations, all at the same time.
Alyssa Reynolds, a Boise State alumni and clinical assistant professor, serves as the liaison and coordinator for Boise State students as they do their internships, many of them in child welfare with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Division of Family Services. At any given time, she might be working with a dozen or more participants; her current cohort of participants represents $83,200 in stipend scholarships.
Through the program, social work students can receive annual stipends of $8,000 towards a master’s and $6,800 toward a bachelor’s degree for every year that they work toward their degree. Students who come to Boise State for master’s degrees in social work, for example, may have participated in the program as undergraduates at Lewis-Clark State College previously. Receiving the stipend commits students to work with the state for a set period of time.
And while Boise State’s online programs are slightly more costly, the stipends get close to letting students break even on the costs of their studies, even as they make connections, gain job skills — and often essentially land permanent work before they graduate.
And because the social work program is designed to support students across the region, the program hits the mark as well when it comes to rural connections and outreach. With satellite campuses in Twin Falls and Coeur d’Alene, Reynolds notes, “We can support the whole state, all rural areas.”
While numbers are hard to come by, “I think it’s successful in supporting employment,” she said. “Many Department of Health and Welfare employees are Boise State graduates.”
Because they’ve built track records through their internships, “Students get an automatic foot in the door with jobs right after they graduate,” she said. “They’ve really liked that.
“It’s a win win. It’s a really great opportunity for new social workers,” Reynolds said “They get a degree, they get new skills and the department also gets to retain them.”