Spring Updates from the Child Welfare Education Collaboration

The Child Welfare Education Collaboration program is a partnership between the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Child Protective Services (CPS) that prepares social work students for careers in child welfare. 

Take Our Survey!Child Welfare Education Collaboration Logo

Staff at the Texas Institute for Child and Family Wellbeing are gathering information to better understand how we can support current and former CWEC students. We would appreciate your feedback by completing this brief survey.

Our Trainings
Licensed Clinical Social Work

CWEC provides Licensed Clinical Social Work (LCSW) supervision to all graduates of the program. This supervision provides opportunities for our graduates who have an LMSW to experience mutual support, share common experiences, solve complex tasks, learn new behaviors, increase interpersonal competencies and increase insight. We’re currently running three groups. Each group has up to six employees and meets monthly individually as a group.

 If you are interested in getting on the waiting list please send an email to Jennifer Conrad-Graham at jennifergraham@mail.utexas.edu!

Dare to Lead

Most of the world spends more waking hours working than anything else. Yet work can be full of purpose and passion, a place where we can learn and grow and become the best versions of ourselves. The leadership at the Texas Institute of Family Wellbeing had the opportunity to become Certified Trained Dare to Lead™ Facilitators in 2018. We came away with a powerful new language, operationalized values, and practical tools and frameworks that helped us lead our own teams more effectively. We immediately knew that we wanted to take this to the people we regularly serve in child welfare!

Dare to Lead™ is not a management training. We like to call it the “base coat” for management training because it is intended to help people work through their own barriers in leadership. The most significant finding from the research of Dr. Brené Brown, the creator of Dare to Lead™, was that courage is a collection of teachable, measurable, and observable skills. The Dare to Lead™ program focuses on developing courage-building skills to move individuals and teams from shame-filled leadership to courageous leadership that stands up and stands out. In 2020, amidst the pandemic, we launched the first Dare to Lead™ cohort with Texas Child Protective Service leaders in Region 7, with eight students total. So far, we have hosted four virtual workshops and trained 34 leaders across two regions.

The commitment is not as big as the return. Still, it is an extended training that requires dedication and self-reflection. The complete training is 24 hours, typically done in 6–8 sessions over a few weeks. People who complete the full training can say that they are Dare to Lead™ Trained and receive a certificate and badge to display on LinkedIn.
If 24 hours sounds like a lot to you, we have great news to share!

  1. We’re launching our first Hybrid (Self Study+Workshop) sessions for leaders in Region 2 in August 2022. Participants will be expected to do their own work outside of class for four weeks and meet with the cohort once a week for two hours. We hope that the Dare to Lead™ Hybrid training will be successful, so we can expand this opportunity in 2023.
  2. The Brené Brown Research Group stopped hosting train the trainer programs in 2020. We now have the Daring Teams Program, developed for Dare to Lead™ Trained participants to bring the work to their own teams. Those who are Dare to Lead™ Trained can serve as the group coordinator and co-learner with their own teams once they have completed their own Dare to Lead™ program. If you are interested in learning more, fill out this form!
Alumni and Staff Spotlight

At the end of June 2021, Chris Johnson retired as the director of the CWEC program. Chris has been an important part of the CWEC program for over 13 years. Her understanding of the agency helped make the CWEC program the success it is today. Although we are sad to see Chris go, we are happy for her new adventures. Chris is excited about traveling, painting, and spending time in her home in Fredericksberg, TX.

With Chris’s retirement, Jennifer Conrad-Graham took over officially as director in September 2021. Jennifer has been with CWEC since 2007, and brings a history of information about the program and Child Protective Services. Not only was Jennifer a CWEC graduate and served as a conservatorship worker, she has worked closely with the major players and understands the uniqueness of the CWEC program. 

What We’ve Been Up To

In the Spring of 2021, CWEC conducted our first child welfare simulations. Simulations are hands-on experiences where students in the field work through a realistic case and receive feedback. Our child welfare simulation took small groups of students through a typical investigation case. Students role-played the parts of the caseworker and family and then had to decide if they recommended a removal. Even though our first simulation took place on Zoom, students had positive responses to the exercise.

We hope to continue hosting simulations in upcoming semesters. We would love current and former caseworkers to join with small groups of students to provide input and feedback. If you’re interested, please send an email to Jennifer Conrad-Graham at jennifergraham@mail.utexas.edu!

Additional Resources
Child Welfare Academy
Texas Institute for Child and Family Wellbeing