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Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence & Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program (CWTAP)


The Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence is Washington's first comprehensive statewide partnership dedicated to developing professional expertise for individuals working with vulnerable children and families.

Three higher-education institutions - University of Washington, University of Washington Tacoma, and Eastern Washington University - joined forces with the state's Children's Administration and Partners for Our Children, a policy and analysis group, to ensure efficient, effective and accessible competency-based training and education. This innovative approach is a first in the nation.
For more information about the Alliance see
The Title IV-E Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program (CWTAP) is an Alliance program.

Masters of social work (MSW) students interested in a career in public child welfare have an exciting opportunity to enhance or develop practice skills while earning an advanced degree.  The Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program (CWTAP), a federally funded program, is implemented through public universities in Washington State.  CWTAP is a partnership between Washington Children's Administration and the universities.  The goal is to enhance professional practice in child welfare, provide assistance to current and/or potential social workers who are committed to a career in public child welfare, and to recruit and retain highly trained, ethnically diverse social workers with advanced degrees.

The CWTAP places students in the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS), the Washington state agency mandated to protect children from abuse and neglect and to provide child welfare services to families.  Students are placed in DCFS offices to complete their field practicum experience.  The field experience focuses learning on child abuse and neglect, risk assessment, family reunification, separation and loss, permanency planning, court testimony and case management.  Students accepted into the program receive tuition support to assist with their educational expenses.

In return for receiving financial assistance, program participants commit to actively pursue employment with Children's Administration on a statewide basis upon graduation.  Students agree to accept an offer of employment with CA within six months of graduation (unless the agency is precluded from offering employment due to merit system rules, budget cuts, hiring freezes, or other circumstances beyond the agency's control).  Current CA employees must continue employment with CA for a specified period of time.  Participants may seek substitute employment with a CA-approved organization in order to fulfill the employment service period, this may include organizations such as the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence, and child welfare related work with any federally recognized Indian Tribe.


Program Criteria 

  • Applicants selected for an interview must participate in a panel interview.
  • Upon graduation, participants who are not current CA employees must apply for DCFS employment statewide.  Participants will be available for job interviews and willing to accept DCFS employment, if offered, within six months following graduation.  Jobs are not guaranteed.
  • Participants may seek substitute employment with a CA-approved organization in order to fulfill the employment service period, this may include organizations such as the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence, and child welfare related work with any federally recognized Indian Tribe.
  • Participants take all courses designated by the School of Social Work as required for CWTAP students.
  • The practicum takes place in a DCFS office.
  • Part-time permanent and temporary jobs statewide count towards repayment of the obligation; intermittent/on-call jobs do not.
  • Because CWTAP is a federally funded grant program, there are no guarantees as to how long it will continue or the amount of tuition support that will be provided. Continuation is dependent on federal funding and state endorsement.


 What CWTAP participants have to say...


"The training opportunities have just been excellent! This program gives you a lot more than most field units."
Melissa C.

"When you think about it, social work is rooted in public child welfare. This program puts me right on the front lines."
- Meille K.

"The CWTAP is an amazing program that has allowed me to grow, both professionally and personally. I have had the opportunity to work and learn with other students throughout the entire office."
- Raelean K.

"I have been in the field of social work for 20 years and in the Child Welfare system for 13. The need for skilled workers is more important today than ever before. A worker needs to be well-rounded in theory, practice, policy and procedure, and continuously educating themselves on current research. I believe that these skills will go a long way in assisting the department in building the collaborations that are needed to do 'best practice.'"
- Kristy R.

"The program was challenging and intense, which was exactly the experience I needed to prepare for the demands of the job for which I was hired!"
- Nadean R.

"I greatly appreciate the many opportunities this program has given me for new learning. The classes have given me insight into various programs, philosophies, and the importance of working with people's strengths, both clients and co-workers."
- Sue G.

"The CWTAP program gave me the skills needed to do the job, the ability to interview well and the desire to do a tough, but extremely important job. I am grateful for this opportunity and all the special people who made it possible"
- Sharron A.

Field unit seminars are always filled with plenty of useful information and lively discussions."
- Mindy N.

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