Who is qualified to apply?

For which degrees may students enroll?

Can I change my concentration or area of study once I am in school?

Can I enroll in full-time in school if I am still working at my agency?

Which schools are accredited and approved?

What is the application process?

What if many applicants from one county are accepted for admission to school?

What are the degree requirements?

What financial support is available?

Are there any limitations to what CWEL funding can be used for?

Are out-of-state tuition and fees covered by the CWEL program?

Can I take a course with an overseas travel component if I pay for it myself?

Does my work experience qualify for MSW program credit?

What commitment does a student have to their agency?

What commitment do students have to the CWEL program?

What are the employing agency's responsibilities?

Who administers the CWEL Program?

Who should I contact for information about CWEL?

How can I contact participating schools?

Who is qualified to apply?

Any caseworker, supervisor, manager, or administrator of a Pennsylvania county child welfare agency may apply provided the applicant has the prerequisite academic degree from an accredited institution of higher education; has been employed by the same agency for a minimum of two years; has at least satisfactory performance evaluations; and is granted county agency approval by the employing agency for the purpose of enrolling in the CWEL program. Those who have already started a graduate Social Work program in a CWEL school may also apply, so long as they are in good academic standing and they do not have any outstanding debts to the school in which they are enrolled. Persons in default of federal educational loans are ineligible.

For which degrees may students enroll?

Eligible students may enroll for a social work degree at the master's level in any school or department of an institution of higher education in Pennsylvania accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and approved to participate in the CWEL program based upon the school's offering child welfare-specific courses and field instruction (internships). Upon enrollment, students will be required to select a major area of study in keeping with the agency work assignment they expect to receive upon completion of their studies. For example, administration may be approved as a major only for students who are currently in an administrative position or whose assignment immediately upon return to the agency will be administrative. CWEL funds may not be used for joint or dual degree programs, or for online degree programs.

Can I change my concentration or area of study once I am in school?

CWEL students enrolled in a direct practice or clinical concentration who are promoted to an administrative or supervisory role during their graduate studies may petition CWEL for approval to change to an administrative, or similar concentration or specialization, if changing concentration will not result in the need to take additional courses. CWEL will consider requests to change concentration on a case by case basis.

Can I enroll full time in school if I am still working at my agency?

No. CWEL students who have not been granted a full-time academic leave from their agency to attend school must enroll in the part-time course of study for their school program.  CWEL students who do not have an academic leave are still responsible for working their full-time hours at their agency and class and field hours for school are in addition to those full-time hours. 

Which schools are accredited and approved?

The eleven graduate programs approved in Pennsylvania are located at Bryn Mawr College, California University, Edinboro University, Kutztown University, Marywood University, Millersville University/Shippensburg University, Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh, West Chester University, and Widener University. Millersville and Shippensburg universities jointly offer a MSW degree program. The number of openings at each school is limited and may vary from year to year. Applicants may apply to the campus based programs at any of these schools.

What is the application process?

Please be advised that the CWEL application deadline for most applicants is April 30th.* We begin reviewing applications at this time and continue to review them through the summer. Applications for students with advanced standing/summer start are prioritized.

The application process includes three distinct components:

  • Application to one of the approved school programs,
  • Request for educational leave for full-time study or approval for part-time enrollment from the county agency, and
  • Online application to the CWEL program for financial support. Applicants are strongly advised to pursue all three approvals simultaneously so that potential admission is not compromised.

Persons who meet the basic qualifications above must apply through the normal admissions channels and procedures to any of the eleven approved school programs. It is important that applicants clearly indicate to the school that they are also applicants to the CWEL program. The admissions standards for CWEL students are identical to those for all applicants to each school as published in the school's catalog and admissions materials. After the school has completed its application review and has notified the applicant of its decision, those who have been accepted will be reviewed for funding consideration by the CWEL program. Part of the CWEL application process is documentation of admission to one of the approved school programs and approval from one's employer either for part-time study or an educational leave for full-time study. The deadline for submitting the CWEL application and resume is April 30 each year. Selection of students is based upon criteria which include available funding, geographic distribution, space availability in the approved programs, date of acceptance into an approved academic program, seniority, and employer recommendations. 

*The deadline is March 15th for all applicants to Millersville and Shippensburg Universities and for advanced standing applicants to Bryn Mawr College, Kutztown University, Marywood University, the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University and Widener University.

What if many applicants from one county are accepted for admission to school?

The purpose of the CWEL program is to strengthen public child welfare. Thus, there is a limit to the number of educational leaves any given county can grant at one time. This may be especially evident in smaller counties. County administrators have the authority to establish a county policy for prioritizing applicants, using criteria such as seniority. Persons who have been accepted by a school, but do not receive county approval to attend in the year accepted, may defer their admission as determined by the school. Persons deferring school admission must reapply to the CWEL program and secure current county agency approval prior to entering school.

What are the degree requirements?

Students admitted to the CWEL program for study at the master's level are required to satisfy all academic requirements for the degree program to which they are admitted in four years or less. These requirements include credit hours, grades, field instruction (internship), and course content in cultural diversity and interagency collaboration. In addition, there are several specific academic requirements:

  • At least two child welfare courses, pre-approved by the CWEL program
  • At least one field work assignment (internship) in a child and family focused setting serving IV-E eligible clients
  • Students already enrolled in a graduate Social Work program must submit their transcripts and receive CWEL approval for their proposed remaining course of study

Normal progress toward completion of the degree as defined by the school is expected. 

What financial support is available?

Persons admitted to the CWEL program for full-time study will remain in the employment of their agency on educational leave for the period of their studies. From the beginning of their academic program until its termination, employees will receive a salary equal to 95 percent of their last salary before matriculation plus the normal fringe benefits associated with the reduced salary. In addition, they will receive full or partial tuition and fees for the school in which they are enrolled, a book allowance and, in some instances, mileage for commuting. Part-time students will continue in their normal employment and receive their normal salary and benefits. However, they will receive the full or partial tuition and fees incurred in their enrollment, a book allowance and, in some instances, mileage for commuting.

Are there any limitations to what CWEL funding can be used for?

Yes, there are several limitations. CWEL students may not take dual degree programs or certificate programs (other than child welfare). This includes programs such as the MSW/MPA, MSS/MLSP, MSW/MPH, MSW/JD, etc. Funds also cannot be used for partial payment of dual degree programs. Additionally, CWEL funds are not available for tuition or other costs related to the completion of courses which are prerequisites for the student’s graduate Social Work education. CWEL funds may not be used to cover any costs related to courses with an overseas travel component.

Are out-of-state tuition and fees covered by the CWEL program?

No.  CWEL funds are available only for tuition and fees at the in-state, Pennsylvania rate.  Students living outside of Pennsylvania are responsible for the difference in out-of-state tuition/fee costs.

Can I take a course with an overseas travel component if I pay for it myself?

No, CWEL students may not register for any classes which involve foreign travel, even if they are able to pay for the class using non-CWEL funds.

Does my work experience qualify for MSW program credit?

No, regulations established by CSWE stipulate that programs may not grant social work course credit for life experience or previous work experience (EPAS, 3.1.5).  The complete CSWE 2015 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards are available here.

What commitment does a student have to the agency?

Persons enrolled in the CWEL program will be required to sign a legally binding contract agreeing to return for employment to the agency from which they were granted educational leave immediately following termination of their studies. This provision is a strict requirement in compliance with federal regulations. The contractual period of employment will be equal in time to the period for which the student/employee received financial support. In addition, enrollees must return to the agency for assignment during any school vacation period exceeding fifteen work days, including any school summer vacation period. CWEL salary support will continue during these vacation periods and will be included in the period of financial support to be satisfied by the employment commitment. Persons who do not complete the contractual work commitment will be required to repay in cash the value of all funds paid to them or on their behalf. The work commitment for part-time students will be prorated so that it will not exceed the commitment of full-time students enrolled in the same degree program in the same school.

What commitment do students have to the CWEL program?

The CWEL faculty maintain close contact with CWEL students and graduates. Students are required to provide the details of their course and internship activities each academic term, submit reimbursement requests on a regular and timely basis, and to attend a meeting with CWEL faculty usually held in their geographic region at least annually. Graduates are required to keep the CWEL program advised of any changes of name, address, or employment during the period of their CWEL work commitment. Both students and graduates are expected to participate in CWEL's annual program evaluation.

What are the employing agency's responsibilities?

The CWEL student's employer will determine which full-time students are granted educational leave, in accordance with agency policy, and grant such leave for the duration of the student's enrollment; maintain the student's salary and fringe benefits at the 95 percent level; provide work assignments during student vacation periods in excess of fifteen work days; and provide suitable employment for the student for at least the period of the contractual work commitment following termination of the student's educational program. The employer will be reimbursed for the student's salary and fringe benefits during the enrollment period. Suitable employment will be an assignment providing, supervising, or administering services to Title IV-E eligible children and their families and commensurate with the employee's abilities and training. For part-time students, employers will participate with the student and school in arranging a work and academic schedule designed to help the student complete the degree program as expeditiously as possible.

Who administers the CWEL Program?

The School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh administers the CWEL program for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The University of Pittsburgh assists each county, student, and school participating in the program to make all the necessary arrangements prior to, during, and following the student's enrollment. Questions, technical assistance, contract monitoring, student employment and commitment obligations, financial administration, curriculum, and related matters are handled by the University of Pittsburgh.

Who should I contact for information about CWEL?

Principal Investigator
Helen Cahalane, Ph.D., ACSW, LCSW
University of Pittsburgh
School of Social Work
2328 Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
412-624-6386
E-mail: hcupgh@pitt.edu

Child Welfare Agency Coordinator
Yodit Betru, DSW, LCSW
University of Pittsburgh
School of Social Work
2325 Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Phone: 412-624-6387
E-mail: ykb2@pitt.edu

Academic Coordinator
Elizabeth A. Winter, Ph.D., LSW
University of Pittsburgh
School of Social Work
2327 Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
412-648-2371
E-mail: eaw44@pitt.edu

The fax number for all CWEL staff at the University of Pittsburgh is 412-624-1159. All CWEL staff may also be reached by phone toll-free at 1-866-ASK-CWEL (1-866-275-2935).

How can I contact participating schools?

Listed below are the addresses and phone numbers of the eleven participating school programs. Students wishing to participate in the joint Millersville/Shippensburg program may apply through either Millersville University or Shippensburg University. All applicants must apply to the school(s) of their choice by the admission deadline specified by the school(s).

Bryn Mawr College
Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research
300 Airdale Road
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-1697
610-520-2600

California University of Pennsylvania
College of Education and Human Services
Department of Social Work
250 University Avenue
California, PA 15419-1394
724-938-4022

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Department of Social Work
Hendricks Hall G49
235 Scotland Road
Edinboro, PA 16444
814-732-2013

Kutztown University
Department of Social Work
Old Main 27
Kutztown, PA 19530
610-683-4235

Marywood University
School of Social Work and Administrative Studies
2300 Adams Avenue
2nd floor, Immaculata Hall
Scranton, PA 18509-1598
570-340-6002

Millersville University of Pennsylvania
Social Work Department
Stayer Hall, Room 301
Millersville, PA 17551-0302
717-871-4723

Shippensburg University
Department of Social Work and Gerontology
382 Shippen Hall
1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg, PA 17257
717-477-1276

Temple University
College of Health Professions and Social Work
Ritter Hall Annex, Fifth Floor
1301 W. Cecil B. Moore Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19122
215-204-5229

University of Pennsylvania
School of Social Policy and Practice
Masters of Social Work Program
3701 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6214
215-898-5512

University of Pittsburgh
School of Social Work
Office of Admissions
2104 Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
412-624-6302

West Chester University
Office of Graduate Studies and Extended Education
Department of Social Work
Reynolds Hall
650 Reynolds Alley
West Chester, PA 19383
610-436-2664

Widener University
Center for Social Work Education
Bruce Hall
1604 Walnut Street
Chester, PA 19013-5792
610-499-1153