The Impact of a Title IV-E Program on Perceived Practice Skills for Child Welfare Students: A Review of Five MSW Cohorts


  • Elizabeth Jane Greeno University of Maryland School of Social Work
  • Lisa Fedina University of Maryland
  • Berenice Rushovich Child Trends
  • Caroline Burry University of Maryland
  • Debra Linsenmeyer
  • Christopher Wirt University of Maryland



Title IV-E, child welfare knowledge, child welfare practice, child welfare training


Title IV-E Education for Public Child Welfare training programs are designed to build knowledge and practice skills among students and current child welfare workers in efforts to build a competent and highly trained workforce. A mixed methods study was conducted to: 1) measure changes in MSW Title IV-E students' perceived confidence to perform skills across 13 practice content areas for public child welfare practice, and 2) to explore students’ perceptions of their competency for child welfare practice. This study also focused on the impact of prior child welfare experiences on perceived child welfare knowledge and skills among Title IV-E students. A total of 224 Title IV-E MSW students over the course of five academic cohorts participated in this study. Surveys were conducted at three time points: pretest, posttest, and retrospective pretest. Twenty focus groups were conducted during the study time period. Findings indicate gains across all practice content areas with the largest gains in areas of working with the courts and conducting assessments. Qualitative findings assessing student's perception of competency to practice in child welfare include themes of students’ preparation to practice post-graduation and differences between the students’ experiences in the IV-E program and what they witness in the field. Specific practice area recommendations include addressing workers’ age and prior experience in Title IV-E seminars and trainings as well the importance of Title IV-E field instructors in helping to prepare students for child welfare practice.

Author Biography

Debra Linsenmeyer

University of Maryland, Baltimore


Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980. P.L. 96-272. §§ 422(1980).

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