This grant effort, begun in 1993, has resulted in a linkage between the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) and the Shepherd Social Work Program to train students for employment in child welfare and provide a coordinated staff development and training program to non-social work educated staff at DHHR in the 17 county eastern region of West Virginia. Over the last 26 years, this grant has provided over 5 million dollars of outside funding to the Social Work Program and has prepared dozens of BSW graduates for child welfare practice.
The Title IV-E grant also supports a statewide initiative of accredited social work programs to enhance the delivery of foster parent services to the children of West Virginia. Through the grant, the Social Work Program employs a full-time trainer and coordinator whose role is two-fold: To assist in the training of social service workers at WV DHHR and to coordinate pre-service training for prospective foster/ adoptive parents in Region III of WV.
Utilizing a specialized curriculum (PRIDE) developed by the Child Welfare League of America, this work is done collaboratively with other accredited social work programs throughout the state to improve the delivery of foster parent services to the children of West Virginia. The training provides a 21-hour course of seven modules for prospective parents at various sites throughout the region. Currently, training is routinely taking place in Shepherdstown, Burlington, Elkins, Belington, Kingwood, and Clarksburg. Angela Bender, BSW, administers and coordinates the initiative for pre-service foster parent training under the direction of Professor Amy Garzón-Hampton.
The Social Work Program has been granted additional funding by the West Virginia Dept. of Health and Human Resources to provide in-service training for current foster parents. In-service training allows foster parents to further develop their skills and competencies as well as to maintain certification. The goal is to provide additional skills to current foster parents at numerous locations in the 17 county region of eastern West Virginia. Due to the traumatic nature of child abuse and neglect and the impact of out-of-home placement, the focus of in-service training in the past few years has been almost exclusively on trauma, its manifestations in children, and trauma-informed techniques that can be employed by caregivers.