Child Welfare Workforce Excellence Fellows Program

Biracial female couple and son

In partnership with Allegheny County Department of Human Services, the School of Social Work offers a fellowship opportunity to prepare MSW students for child welfare practice. The Child Welfare Workforce Excellence Fellows (CWWEF) program is available in the 2022-2023 academic year only to full-time second year and incoming Advanced Standing students in Direct Practice who will complete the MSW program by summer 2023. The School of Social Work is one of seven programs throughout the country that were awarded a “Workforce Excellence” grant from the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) to help prepare MSW students for a career in public child welfare. In return for service in Allegheny County’s Office of Children, Youth, and Families (CYF), participants receive fellowship funding, child welfare internships, focused advising, foundational child welfare training, educational enrichment, and the opportunity to be part of agency organizational enhancement teams. Our goal is that Fellows will enhance the child welfare workforce and become agents of change within the child welfare system.

The Real Deal: A Realistic Job Preview of a CYF Caseworker

CWWEF Training Fellowship Components


You are eligible for the CWWEF program if you:

  • Are an incoming Advanced Standing or second year MSW student in the Direct Practice specialization;
  • Are a full-time student
  • Have a valid driver’s license and access to a trustworthy vehicle ;
  • Have an interest in public child welfare;
  • Not currently in default on any outstanding federal or state educational loans;
  • Are prepared to make a legally binding agreement for public child welfare employment in Allegheny County CYF after graduation.
  • Are a U.S. citizen or a U.S. permanent resident

Fellowship Funding and Work Obligation

Second year Fellows will receive $16,250 in the 2022-2023 academic year to assist with tuition and other school related expenses. Fellows with Advanced Standing will receive up to $8,125 in the summer 2023 term for a total of $24,375 for the academic year. Fellows are contractually obligated to work at Allegheny County CYF for a specific period of time following graduation in return for participation in the CWWEF program.

Specialized Coursework

In order to equip fellows with a solid knowledge base in the field of child welfare, fellows are required to enroll in the Children, Youth, and Families certificate program. Fellows will also receive academic advising by child welfare faculty.

Child Welfare Field Placements

The CWWEF program requires fellows to complete their generalist field placement at a CYF provider agency that serves children, youth, and families in a public or private setting.

Specialized field placements must be completed at one of the seven regional offices of Allegheny County CYF. In summer 2022, fellows will enroll in Foundations of Pennsylvania Child Welfare Practice to begin preparing for their internship. This is a 125-hour curriculum that is comprised of ten specific modules that provide new caseworkers with fundamental concepts needed to effectively work with children, youth, and families served through the public child welfare system.

Fellows will also have the opportunity to participate in agency workforce excellence initiatives and special workgroups. They will also receive mentorship from Allegheny County CYF staff, many of whom are CWEL graduates.

Child Welfare Seminar Series

Fellows are also required to participate in a monthly seminar series. The purpose of the Child Welfare Seminar Series is to help fellows transfer the skills and knowledge obtained in the classroom to their agency field learning experience. Sessions will be held virtually to allow for maximum participation without the need for travel and mitigation actions.

Application Requirements


If you have any questions, please contact the CWWEF Project Coordinator:

Dr. Helen Cahalane


CWWEF Student Handbook (PDF)