ATLANTA – Georgia families are likely to receive greater assistance from child welfare case managers as a result of a new partnership announced Friday by the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS), the University of Georgia and Georgia State University.

Georgia is one of eight Workforce Excellence sites across the country selected by the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute to participate in a project designed to strengthen the child welfare workforce. The project, which will span over five years, kicks off in June with a Comprehensive Organizational Health Assessment. The assessment will focus on key components of the child welfare workforce, including supervision, training, selection, organizational culture and leadership. Results will serve to identify areas of strength as well as to inform development of strategies for improvement.

A key objective of the project is developing middle management because it is critical to maintaining a positive workplace culture and the implementation of strategies and policies set by senior leadership.

As a team, the partners in the project will develop strategies for strengthening the corps of supervisors and middle managers, including their selection and training.

Project funding will allow the universities to offer tuition stipends to DFCS employees who return to graduate school to earn a master’s degree in social work and receive specialized courses and projects more closely associated with the work of child protection. These students will continue employment with DFCS upon graduation.

“The better we can prepare and support the professionals on our staff, the more they will be able to help the families we work with,” said DFCS Director Tom Rawlings. “We’re excited that this partnership with the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute and these two dynamic universities will help us reduce employee burnout and turnover, increase morale and enhance our training – all of which will ultimately impact Georgia families and improve the services DFCS provides to Georgians.”

The Institute is also hopeful about the benefits of the project.

“Your commitment and dedication to the development of the child welfare workforce has been recognized, and we are pleased to notify you of this award,” wrote the Institute’s director and principal investigators in notifying the Georgia partnership of its selection. “…We aspire to learn lessons and achieve a range of accomplishments in our work together as we implement change to advance and develop the child-welfare workforce.”