A big part of my time at UNC has been the Child Welfare Education Collaborative. This program is designed for students with an interest in public child welfare, and serves as a supplement and community for these individuals to partake in. A field placement in public child welfare is required for the duration of the time that a student is part of the Collaborative. My Foundation year placement was with an HIV/AIDS resource center, so I applied for the Collaborative in the spring of my Foundation year. I found out I had been accepted over the summer, and jumped right in. My Concentration year placement is with Orange County Child Protective Services in their investigations unit, so this dovetails nicely with the aims of the Collaborative.
I took an online training over the summer that is required for all new employees of CPS. This means that if I work for CPS after graduation, I’ll have already fulfilled a major requirement and will be an appealing candidate for the job! It also provided me with a foundation of general child welfare knowledge that allowed me to better dive into my field placement, and really hit the ground running.
The Collaborative staff helps you to choose courses that will enhance your learning in field, and hosts monthly lunch meetings for the Collaborative students to get together and hear from various speakers. This month, they are bringing in a guest speaker to talk to us about the clinical aspects of public child welfare work, and explain the licensure process to us. We also get invited to attend additional trainings. Last semester, they co-hosted an event with the law school where we were able to practice testifying in court – it was really helpful, and we got feedback on our testimony presentation from an actual Orange County judge!
Being a part of the Collaborative also means that I have an additional team of advocates at the School of Social Work. The staff genuinely want to help me in school, field, and with my post-graduation plans, and they have an extensive history of experiences with child welfare that they are always willing to share. I appreciate that this program was flexible enough that I could choose to be a part of it for one year, or two. I love that the Collaborative gives me a connection to students in both cohorts with similar interests as me. I value that I’m learning concrete skills through this experience that I know will continue to benefit me at my field placement, and after graduation.
If you’re considering a field placement in child welfare, I highly encourage you to be a part of this great group! To learn more about the Collaborative, visit: http://ssw.unc.edu/cwec/