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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

MSW Program Specific Policy and Procedure

Page address: welfare program/msw_program_policy.html

Admission To The MSW Program And MSW CWP

The Department of Social Work, MSW Program has developed a partnership with the MN Department of Human Services to offer a graduate level Title IV-E Child Welfare Program (CWSP) at Minnesota State University, Mankato. This program’s goal is to support the recruitment, education, and or retention of a well-prepared public child welfare work force to enhance the service delivery system in Minnesota.

The MSW CWP will provide coursework, advisement, training, and other professional development opportunities, in addition to the stipend, for eligible students. To apply to participate in the CWP, eligible students must first have been admitted to both the College of Graduate Studies at MSU,M and the MSW Program (for more admission information visit, and The MSW Program has two admission tracks. Applicants with a bachelor’s degree from any discipline are eligible for admission to the two-year Traditional Program (TR) while applicants with a BSSW/BSW from an accredited undergraduate social work program may apply for Advanced Standing (AS) which is a 15 month track. Potential MSW CWP Scholars can be admitted to either track.

After formal acceptance to the MSW Program, an application for the MSW CWP may be submitted by

  • those currently employed in any one of the 87 county human services agencies in child protection, foster care, or adoption units (including those dually employed by a county human service office in children’s mental health);
  • OR employed with a tribal child welfare program (including those dually employed in children’s mental health);
  • OR individuals who reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of children in foster care or children waiting for adoption;
  • OR personnel employed or preparing for employment with the Child & Safety Permanency Division at MN DHS;
  • OR individuals who make a commitment to work in a public child welfare agency.

An application must be completed for screening, and a determination made for program participation, prior to the beginning of the fall semester. The MSU,M Child Welfare Program faculty will make those determinations. Initial stipends will only be awarded in the fall semester. Once a student has been awarded the stipend, now called a MSW CWP Scholar, they will continue to be funded through graduation, provided there is compliance with program requirements and new signatures on the Memorandum of Agreement. Potentially, Traditional MSW CWP Scholars can receive the stipend for six (6) semesters (each fall, spring, summer for two years) while Advanced Standing Scholars would only be eligible for three (3) semesters (fall, spring, summer for one year). Students may apply for funding during the first year of the Traditional MSW program for funding in the second year (fall, spring, summer for one year).

Application for the MSW CWP

Completion of the application for MSW CWP occurs after admission to the College of Graduate Studies and the MSW Program but prior to beginning classes in the Fall Semester. Application due dates generally fall at the end of March. The application (Appendix F) requires:

  • U.S. citizenship or permanent residency;
  • a copy of most recent transcript;
  • a resume;
  • essays addressing interest and commitment to practice, career goals, and commitment to culturally relevant practice in public child welfare;
  • commitment to comply with a Department of Human Services background check (to be completed once an award has been made).
  • complete current Title IV-E Child Welfare Scholar Application

Any student admitted to the MSW Program and the University, independent of state residency, is eligible to apply provided they fall into one of aforementioned categories, meet all other requirements, and are prepared to meet all obligations. Applications are accepted in the spring for returning Traditional students and after admissions to the MSW program are complete for Advanced Standing and new Traditional students. NO stipends will be given for less than one calendar year (August – July). Currently, there is no part-time option.

Post-Award of MSW CSWP

Once a student has applied and been awarded the MSW CWP, they must:

  • sign and submit the Memorandum of Understanding;
  • submit to a Department of Human Services background check;
  • submit I-9 documentation of citizen ship or permanent residency (birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, etc.);
  • work with the MSW CWP Director, Financial Aid, and the Business Office to arrange for stipend payment;
  • update the Memorandum of Agreement for continued funding with MSW CWP Coordinator if requested;
  • complete an advanced child welfare elective for a minimum of 3 graduate credits;
  • seek and accept at least one field practicum in a public child welfare setting (Traditional program Scholars may complete one of two required placements in other child-serving agencies or organizations);
  • attend MSW CWP meetings, Department of Human Services Foundation Training as needed, and other scheduled events;
  • completion of 8-10 hours of professional development opportunties each fall and spring semester, and 4-5 in summer.
  • successfully meet all expectations of the MSW academic program and University requirements to remain in good standing;
  • complete the required Capstone Project on a child welfare related topic;
  • Successfully complete the MSW program.

If a Scholar withdraws or is expelled from the MSW program, the stipend will be withdrawn. In the event of an approved leave of absence from the MSW program, following the MSW Program policy outlined in the MSW Student Handbook, the Scholar will cease to receive the stipend until a plan for resumption of academic progress is approved and begun. If a Scholar withdraws or is expelled or does not return from a leave of absence, the Scholar is obligated to both find and accept employment within 3 months, for a duration prorated to the amount of the stipend already awarded. If the employment obligation is not met, the Scholar will be declared as defaulting and the MSW CWP Coordinator will notify the Minnesota State University, Mankato Business Office who will then recoup the amount of the stipend previously awarded. All costs incurred in attempting to collect the amount owed, including, but not limited to, attorney fees, agency fees, late fees, installment payment fees, and administrative fees will be the responsibility of the defaulting student.

Financial Information & Stipend Distribution

The Department or MSW CWP cannot directly pay tuition or other educations expenses related to the completion of the MSW Program. Stipends are paid directly to Scholars who may then use those funds to pay tuition, buy books, pay fees, or other expenses. Stipends are considered taxable income and those deductions are made by the University prior to disbursement of the stipend.

Stipend availability is dependent on contract awards made by the MN Department of Human Services. All information related to stipend availability or amounts of the stipend are contingent on the Department receiving the Title IV-E contract for the budgeted amount from the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Scholars will be notified if there is any change to the contract in a timely manner. All stipends may be altered dependent on contract awards.

Stipends will be distributed by the Business Office, at the beginning of each semester. Scholars are required to complete the necessary paperwork in the Business office for direct deposit, regarding citizenship and tax withholdings (W-4). Failure to complete the necessary paperwork in a timely manner will result in a delay of award.

Stipends are considered taxable income by the IRS. The Department or the MSW CWP cannot offer tax advice and Scholars are strongly encouraged to consult a tax preparer or the IRS at with any questions.

It is anticipated that MSW CWP Scholars will receive $3000 (fall) and $3,350 (spring, and summer) for a total of $10,050 per academic year. Depending on application acceptance and funding availability, Traditional Students may receive the stipend for a total of six (6) semesters, while Advanced Standing Students may receive the stipend for a total of three (3) semesters. You must be currently enrolled and a student in good standing in order to continue to receive the stipend. There is no option for partial awards.

Impact on Financial Aid

Scholars should be aware that receiving MSW CWP funds may impact their eligibility for additional financial aid, including graduate assistantships. Scholars are encouraged to consult with the financial aid office and or the Department of Social Work.


The MSW program at Minnesota State University, Mankato educates students using an advanced generalist social work perspective with an emphasis on practice in small and rural communities. This allows students to acquire knowledge and skills that lead to advanced direct practice (individuals, families, and groups) and advanced indirect practice (administration and policy). The advanced generalist is well recognized in the literature as an optimal educational perspective for preparing social workers to practice in small and rural communities (Gibbs, Locke, & Lohman, 1990; Greene, 2003; Ginsberg, 2005). It is the goal of the MSW program to promote the ethics and values of the social work profession, to promote social justice, and to promote professional development and community involvement of graduates and faculty. The MSW CWP is grounded in the advanced generalist perspective and allows the Scholar the opportunity to focus assignments, field education, and Capstone Projects on topics specific to direct and indirect practice with children and families who receive child welfare services through county, tribal, or state human services. Child Welfare Scholars will have the added benefit of seminars, training, including Department of Human Services Foundation Training, and other opportunities to more fully develop their expertise in child welfare.

Students are required to attend classes year round (August – July), Fridays and Saturdays, with some courses offered as hybrid (face to face meetings with on-line content provided with required assignments). A full review of the MSW Program and curriculum may be completed at which is updated as program changes are made. Additionally, the program requires 960 supervised hours of field placement for Traditional Students and 500 supervised hours for Advanced Standing Students which enables students to apply the knowledge learned in the concurrently scheduled classes. MSW CWP Scholars meet these same requirements. The MSW CWP is a “value-added” program in that students are required to focus their assignments, to the degree possible, in each class on child welfare related topics and themes. MSW course instructors are aware of this requirement and may offer support to students in selecting topics or themes.

CWP Competencies and MSW Goals

The MSW program goals support the achievement of the Department’s mission and have met the requirements for accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).  The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) has identified Practice Model Skills and Values and Principles (Appendix A) that reflect the performance behaviors and perspectives expected in state and county child welfare practice.  The overlap of these three sets of practice standards is substantial.  While DHS content is more specifically framed in child welfare language, the MSW Program is framed in the compatible advanced generalist perspective, while CSWE takes more global perspective.   MSW Program goals (Student Handbook, 2012-2013) appear below with the corresponding DHS focus underlined with the CSWE Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (2008) indicated in brackets.  Additional detail regarding Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards can be reviewed online or in the MSW Student Handbook.

1. To prepare advanced generalist social workers that understand and identify with the social work profession and are committed to upholding the values and ethics of the profession that serve to guide professional practice [EPAS 2.1.1 & 2.1.2].

2. To prepare advanced generalist social workers that are able to critically and differentially apply the knowledge, theories, values, skills, required to engage in research-informed practice and planned change (i.e. engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation) with individuals, couples, families, groups, organizations, and communities, emphasizing the small and rural community context [EPAS 2.1.3, 2.1.6, 2.1.7, & 2.1.10a-d].

3. To prepare advanced generalist social workers who are committed to affirming diversity and difference in practice, and advocate to advance human rights and social and economic justice in organizations, communities, and the broader global society [EPAS 2.1.4, & 2.1.5].

4. To prepare advanced generalist social workers who critically analyze, respond to, and shape the practice context, including rural practice context, and engage in policy practice to deliver effective social work services and advance social and economic well-being [EPAS 2.1.3, 2.1.7, 2.1.8, 2.1.9].

5. To model and promote the core values of competency and service through life-long learning, Scholarship, community involvement, and promotion of the social work profession, spanning local to global communities [EPAS 2.1.1].

Child Welfare Elective

To more substantially address practice in public child welfare, the Department has developed a sequence of elective course work that focuses on both direct and indirect practice. The sequence prepares MSW students to:

  1. Engage in culturally responsive child welfare practice.
  2. Provide a leadership role in child welfare agency.
  3. Develop a worldview that integrates a local to global perspective with emphasis on best practices or service delivery in small and rural communities.
  4. Engage in advanced critical thinking, analysis, and problem solving when examining practice, research, and policy related to public child welfare.
  5. Commit to ethical practice within child welfare settings

Requires that students:

  • Have professional and academic writing skills including APA.
  • Have research and computer skills including ability to use internet for accessing literature, websites/organizations, and or other data retrieval.
  • Consult with the Title IV-E coordinator to ascertain their placement in the sequence.
  • Register for a minimum of 3 credits of the ACWE sequence.

Introduction to Child and Family Services, SOWK 415/515, provides an overview of social services for families and children, with a focus primarily on the delivery of services in small and rural areas. In this course, social and economic justice responses are examined to the multiple problems including poverty, violence, disabilities, addictions that intersect with child abuse and neglect from a local to global context. This course is for students from helping disciplines whose primary focus is on enhancing the well-being of children and families in a diverse society. Students from all disciplines, including social work majors, are encouraged to develop an understanding of the roles and tasks of not only social workers but also other helping professionals in working with children and families in diverse society. All students, regardless of disciplinary affiliation, are expected to identify personal and professional values, have a working knowledge of the theories that inform practice with children and families, and understand the roles and legal responsibilities of social workers, educators, and other professionals in the delivery of child welfare services, beginning knowledge of generalist practice with children and families, and know how to establish effective interdisciplinary relationships with professionals from these multiple disciplines.

SOWK 515 – Child-Welfare Family Services (Fall, Spring)

  • for graduate students who do not have experience in county or tribal child welfare agency
  • 3 credits; permission of instructor required for Title IV-E Scholars
  • utilizes on-line learning via Desire2Learn (internet based learning platform) discussion boards; research, analysis, and written submissions; guest speakers by arrangement;
  • seminar meetings

Modules may include but are not limited to:

  • Module 1 Child welfare history
  • Module 2 Quality of life factors (data & evaluation resources)
  • Module 3 Theories/perspectives
  • Module 4 Reporting child maltreatment
  • Module 5 Differential assessment/structured decision making
  • Module 6 Systems of care
  • Module 7 Interviewing
  • Module 8 Legal & court systems

Advanced Child Welfare Sequence (ACWS), SOWK 549, is designed to maximize the exposure and depth with which students can engage in learning about public child welfare. Either of these electives meets the program requirement for a 3-credit elective. Any graduate student may participate in this sequence, upon advisement from their academic advisor and or the CWP Coordinator. MSW CWP Scholars will be advised by the Coordinator into the appropriate course, and specific content modules, depending on their previous coursework and or experience within the county or tribal child welfare system.

SOWK 549 - Advanced Child Welfare Elective

  • for students who have completed SOWK 515, or an undergraduate child welfare course, or who have extensive child welfare practice
  • each module earns 1cr
  • 3 cr required for Title IV-E Scholars; recommended for additional credit barring duplication of content; permission of instructor required
  • in consultation with instructor, utilizes on-line learning via Desire2Learn (internet based learning platform) discussion boards; research, analysis, and written submissions; includes the development of presentations, training, or other products; guest speakers by arrangement
  • seminar meetings

In addition to the specialized content of each module, all modules will address:

  • Application of social work ethics.
  • Social work practice in small and rural communities.
  • Practice at the micro, mezzo, and or macro levels.
  • Best practices and or evidence based practices.
  • Development of knowledge, skills, and values commensurate with graduate education.

Scholars individually select topic(s) for exploration and development in the following modules:

Indirect Practice Modules

  1. Funding Programs and Services: Managing More with Less (attached)
  2. Child Welfare Workforce: Recruiting, Training, & Supporting a Child Welfare Staff
  3. Services, Programs, & Populations: Defining, Evaluating, and Developing

Direct Practice Modules

  1. Culturally Responsive Programs and Services for Diverse Populations (attached)
  2. Strengthening Family Centered Practice: Preventive Services and Family Assessment
  3. Special Populations in Child Welfare and Child Maltreatment
  4. Therapeutic Services for Child Maltreatment

Field Placements and Learning Contracts for MSW CWP Scholars

Field education is ‘student-driven’ in that specific field education sites are developed based on the interests of individual Scholars. A database which contains a listing of public and private partnerships the Department has developed with area agencies is available for MSW Scholars to consult for field placement options. All MN counties are listed in that database. If the requisite MSW level supervisor is not available the MSW Program “assumes responsibility for reinforcing the social work perspective” through off-site field instruction. The MSW CWP Coordinator and MSW Field Director collaborate to oversee the field placements of Scholars and for the provision of off-site field instruction as needed.

The practicum requirements enable Scholars to apply the knowledge learned in concurrently scheduled classes. Learning contracts for field placement are created by the student in concert with the agency field instructor. The MSW CWP Coordinator will work with the student to assure that the child welfare competencies and MSW practice behaviors are included and form the foundation for the Scholar’s field placement accomplishments. The Concentration year field practicum additionally provides the opportunity for the development, integration, completion, and presentation of the Capstone Project. This will provide a rich opportunity to focus in depth on a child welfare topic for child welfare Scholars. See Child Welfare Foundation Training in General Child Welfare Policy for additional information related to the completion of Field Practicum and Foundation Training.

MSW CWP Scholars must seek and accept at least one field practicum in a public child welfare setting. For Traditional students, the MSW program requires a total 960 supervised hours of field placement, achieved in two practicum placements. Scholars may complete one of two required placements in other child-serving agencies. Scholars in Advanced Standing are required to have 500 supervised hours in one field placement. Placements that meet the public child welfare setting standard include child protection, child welfare, family assessment (alternative response), and adoption and or foster care (not exclusively licensing or recruiting), parent support outreach programs, administration, policy analysis, or program planning in the above areas.

Students opting for a one placement in practice other than public child welfare may consider services related to children’s needs in mental health, developmental disabilities, chemical dependency, school/county collaborations, or community based county programs. Field practicum exclusively with adults will not meet the requirements for any practicum.

An exemption for placement in public child welfare may be granted in the case of a student who has substantial (5 years or more) experience in county, state or tribal child welfare services. A student exempted from a public child welfare practicum would complete the field practicum in an approved child serving agency (examples include children’s mental health, school based services, pediatric health care). Field practicum exclusively with adults will not meet the requirements for any practicum. If a student is exempted from a child welfare practicum, they will also be exempted from Foundation Training. The MSW CWP Coordinator will work with the student to identify other learning opportunities to augment the field education experience.