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Title IV-E Training & Education

Principal Investigator (PI) / Project Lead:

MCDONALD, CHAD

Funding Organization:

Utah Division of Child and Family Services, Utah Department of Human Services

Award Number:

A02433

Project Period:

7/1/2017 – 6/30/2022

Total Funding:

$13,500,000

Project Status:

In progress

 

Project Description:

This Social Research Institute (SRI) project involves training, education, and evaluation components that include participants from the BSW Program, the MSW Program, and new and existing child welfare workers in the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS), as well as the Division of Juvenile Justice Services (DJJS). The goal of the project is to better prepare current and prospective child welfare workers for case management in the child welfare system in Utah. Additionally, this project aims to assess whether a comprehensive, evidence-based training package can impact both worker outcomes and child/family outcomes. A child welfare worker's first child abuse or neglect case is often an overwhelming experience. The process of engaging, gathering information, and making a decision requires a complex skillset, which is difficult to perform under the best circumstances. When the situation is highly emotional, competent performance is even harder to achieve. The training of child welfare workers, like many other types of social work, is acquired mainly through on-the-job experience. This type of training leads to wide variations of competency and outcomes. To better equip child welfare workers with the skills they will need on the job, the University of Utah, in partnership with DCFS, has developed a series of simulation experiences that provide real-time data dashboards for immediate feedback to the workers and trainers. Additionally, a series of skills practice modules are being developed as part of the Virtual Social Work Trainer (VSWT.utah.edu) that includes virtual-reality simulations, as well as skills modules available on Macs, Windows, Android, and iOS devices. Such technologically-supported learning methods, leverage cutting-edge evidence-based training modalities toward the expert performance of the child welfare workforce in Utah.

 

Summary/Abstract:

This project supports the training and education of a significant number of students in both the BSW and MSW programs. To monitor the recruitment, training, and ongoing professional development of all students and employees supported by this project, an evaluation framework is being developed to provide data-informed decisions at all levels, “from cradle to competence,” of the child welfare workforce within DCFS.

This evaluation framework has several pillars, including Recruitment, Curriculum Enhancement, and Competency, all of which point toward desired Child & Family Outcomes. We include elements in each of this contract’s activities to create a comprehensive competency profile of each student in the IV-E Training/Education program, including their attitudes, knowledge levels, and skills. We are also using Implementation Science literature to guide the development and implementation of this comprehensive undertaking of the IV-E Training and Education Partnership in Utah.

SRI’s partners on the project include the Games and Applications (GApp) Lab, part of the Entertainment Arts and Engineering (EAE) Department at the University of Utah.

 

Key Research Personnel:

  • Chad McDonald, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor
  • Kristen West, M.P.A., Senior Research Analyst
  • Cole Benson, M.S., Senior Research Analyst

 

Outcomes:

Project currently in progress.

 


For more information, contact Chad McDonald at Chad.McDonald@utah.edu.

 Updated as of December 1, 2021

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Last Updated: 12/1/21