Training Center for Child Welfare Launched at UNH

By Megan Boyle
On September 21, 2009

Pettee Hall is no longer full of just classrooms and offices.

This August, the Department of Social Work at the University of New Hampshire launched the UNH Center for Professional Excellence in Child Welfare, with a 1.14 million dollar state awarded contract.

The center, located in Pettee Hall, will be used to develop an up-to-date child welfare training curriculum for the state of New Hampshire. New Hampshire Governor John Lynch and his Executive Council approved the two contract for the center in July.

It will take full advantage of UNH's faculty research, making the curriculum as state-of-the-art as possible. Besides relying primarily on the university staff, the center will also bring individual trainers to deliver specialized training sessions. The New Hampshire state child welfare staff, as well as some Juvenile Justice Service faculty will be attending the training sessions.

 "The Center will utilize UNH Academic Technology services to create a ‘blended learning system,' meaning the Center will utilize distance learning technologies in delivering some trainings," said Jerry Marx, an associate professor, as well as the chair of the Department of Social Work at UNH and the campus director for the center.

This "blended learning system" is expected to help lower the cost of specific training for state workers. The system will make training more accessible to workers separated by time or distance from the university so that those who cannot physically be on site with the trainers can still get the information they need.

This center is not just for the state's use, however. Students can utilize the new program through field placements and service learning, as well as graduate assistantships.

UNH was also chosen to house the new center based on locality and availability with the state programs.

"We believed that UNH and the Department of Social Work was best positioned in this state to partner with New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services in providing child welfare training," Marx said.

The program director, Christie Davis, is a graduate from the UNH Graduate Social Work program and was a social worker in Massachusetts for eight years in the state child welfare system.

The Department of Social Work is not working alone. Other university departments and groups are involved in this project as well, including UNH Academic Technology, the Institute on Disability, the Department of Family Studies, the Teaching Excellence Center, Justiceworks, and The Browne Center.

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