University of Pittsburgh
September 19, 2001

One of the Largest Grants in the History of the University of Pittsburgh—$20.5 million—to Fund Statewide Program to Strengthen Child Welfare Services


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

September 10, 2001

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh today announced it has received one of the largest grants in its history—$20.5 million from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and the United States Administration for Children and Families—to underwrite the first year of a three-year, comprehensive statewide education and planning program for public child welfare.

The program will involve partnerships with 15 other Pennsylvania universities, the Pennsylvania Children and Youth Administrators Inc., and all 67 Pennsylvania counties. It will have offices in eight Pennsylvania cities. Seventy-five percent of the funding for the program is federal.

The program is composed of five major components.

The current Child Welfare Education for Leadership program (CWEL) provides graduate social work degrees with a child welfare specialization for county children and youth agency employees at six Pennsylvania universities. The new Child Welfare Education for Baccalaureates component will provide social work degrees with child welfare content for undergraduate students at 14 universities in Pennsylvania. A Competency-Based Training program will provide approximately 10,000 days of preservice and in-service training for some 3,500 county child welfare caseworkers, supervisors, managers, and administrators throughout the state.

In addition, training and technical support will be provided for the Independent Living programs in each county. This child welfare program helps foster children succeed on their own after they reach age 18.

The final element will be training for staff in each county in using the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Information System, a management information system mandated by the federal government.

Pitt's School of Social Work has focused on public child welfare since 1971 and, since 1995, has been administering the CWEL program, with nearly 300 CWEL graduates to date. Over the years, hundreds of Pitt faculty have devoted their full-time efforts to research, teaching, and service in areas benefiting children.

"The University of Pittsburgh has a long and distinguished history of making major contributions to the causes of child health and child welfare," said University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. "This grant cements our place as the home of one of the outstanding schools of social work in the nation, and as the Commonwealth's leader in the education of child welfare professionals. And it is not too dramatic to say that through the program funded by this grant, we will help save children's lives."

"The primary goal of all these programs is to strengthen child welfare services across the state," according to Edward W. Sites, a professor in Pitt's School of Social Work and director of the program. "In the year 2000, there were 22,809 suspected cases of child abuse investigated by public child welfare agencies in Pennsylvania," said Sites. "An enormous amount of information and great skill are required to complete these investigations, to assure the safety of every child, and to link those children and families with the services they need. These programs provide that training."