The Child Welfare Advocate
Approval of the Center for Child Welfare Education and Research
- Tuesday, February 25th, 2020
The WKU College of Health and Human Services is pleased to announce the development of the Center for Child Welfare Education and Research (CCWEAR).
The Department of Social Work has been a close partner with the state’s child welfare agency, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ Department for Community Based Services (DCBS), for over 20 years. WKU’s ongoing partnership involves the professional education and training of the Cabinet’s child welfare workforce through the Training Resource Center, the MSW Stipend Program, the Public Child Welfare Certification Program, and the Credit for Learning initiative. These ongoing initiatives are focused on child welfare practice, training, and workforce development and are making a difference within the Commonwealth and affording WKU students with opportunities for development in a professional career.
According to recent data from the Children’s Bureau, Kentucky has the highest rate of child abuse in the country. While child protection workers are a vital element in responding to allegations of child maltreatment, we all have a responsibility. The CCWEAR will build upon the excellent relationships with community partners involved with Kentucky’s child welfare system and become a catalyst for stimulating applied research to further improve the lives of families and children within our state.
“Kentucky’s Department for Community Based Services is excited about the creation of the Center for Child Welfare Education and Research, led by one of our own, Dr. Austin Griffiths. Dr. Griffiths previously worked for our agency in child and adult protective services and has since become a dedicated and passionate key partner in several important research initiatives associated with our workforce and foster parents. We are excited about the opportunity to build upon this trajectory with Western Kentucky University, and working together to improve the lives of families and children in the Commonwealth.” –Eric T. Clark, Commissioner for the Department of Community Based Services in Kentucky.
Dr. Griffiths is currently an Assistant Professor within WKU’s College of Health and Human Services after having served as its Child Welfare Support Coordinator from 2013-2018. As a former Social Services Clinician with Kentucky's Department for Community Based Services, Dr. Griffiths uses his experience in both adult and child protective services to inform his efforts in the classroom, his ongoing commitment to service, and his research. Dr. Griffiths will be the director of the new Center and will work with a team of social work faculty consisting of Drs. Dean May, Patricia Desrosiers, April Murphy, and Dana Sullivan.
“The idea behind the CCWEAR is to create an applied research center that will include other professions and disciplines within CHHS and across the University. We will utilize multidisciplinary partnerships and collaborations, as effective child welfare practice requires an integrated approach that transcends boundaries and includes the active contribution of professionals with diverse backgrounds and skillsets.” – Dr. Austin Griffiths, Center Director.
CCWEAR will host the National Title IV-E Roundtable for Child Welfare Training and Education at the WKU Knicely Center in May 2020, where more than 250 experts will collaborate to build a stronger child welfare workforce.