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DHHS/ACF: The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute


The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is accepting applications for the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) to advance federal priorities to improve safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes.

Donor Name: Administration for Children and Families

State: All States

County: All Counties

Type of Grant: Grant

Deadline: 06/30/2023

Size of the Grant: $5,000,000

Grant Duration: 60 months


The NCWWI will work with jurisdictions (states, territories, tribes) to diversify the child welfare workforce at all levels and to improve performance, well-being, and recruitment practices. The NCWWI will work closely with jurisdictions in the development and complete a broad range of technical assistance and training activities that promote innovative, promising, and evidence-informed child welfare workforce practices; support workforce and leadership development; improve agency culture and climate and increase retention, and increase culturally responsive practice. To specifically address the workforce crisis, the NCWWI will play a national leadership role in child welfare workforce development and recruitment to include support of university-agency partnerships and launch of a national awareness campaign to address both recruitment and retention challenges in child welfare that will change public perception.CB intends to continue a multi-pronged approach to building the capacity of the child welfare workforce, building upon the lessons learned through previous CB workforce initiatives, using workforce metrics and best practices to inform and develop optimal technical assistance/training, and implementing evidence-informed or evidence-based strategies to improve overall practice.

A goal of CB throughout much of its history has been to ensure that the workforce in public child welfare across all jurisdictions is educated and trained to serve children and families who are experiencing the child welfare system. Today, the child welfare workforce landscape is different and requires CB to lead a new vision for the staff and leaders serving families. More than ever before, there is a need for a diverse workforce focused on prevention who honors families staying together, keeping kin and community connections when separation is the only option, and sees culture as a protective factor.

Project Strategies

NCWWI project strategies and activities must be connected to recruitment, retention, and wellbeing outcomes. NCWWI will work directly with jurisdictions to address issues of organizational culture and climate that reinforce inequities for children and families by diversifying their leadership structures. NCWWI will design interventions to assist jurisdictions in addressing the issues of culture and climate that impact the current workforce crisis as it relates to turnover and vacancy rates. NCWWI will work with individual sites to determine which strategy best matches their needs. NCWWI strategies must include the following recruitment and retention activities:

Retention Strategy: Leadership Development and Advancement to Diversify Child Welfare Leaders

  • Jurisdictions must design or adapt existing models that address the issues of structural oppression that lead to a toxic and oppressive organizational culture and climate to meet the leadership needs of their workforce. An important change needed is to diversify jurisdiction leaders who have a seat at the decision-making tables across the country and for these spaces to be inclusive, where these leaders have input, and their voice is valued and respected.
  • Goal
    • To design and implement a comprehensive leadership development model that includes an acceleration plan for staff and leaders from diverse backgrounds. The model must employ an organizational approach that will be implemented across multiple jurisdictions. This model must include components that address and remove barriers faced by staff and leaders of color in child welfare. Retention Strategy: Tribal Relational Leadership and Cultural Keepers Fellowship NCWWI will engage tribal communities and offer a tribal relational leadership and culture keepers fellowship. This fellowship will offer tribes the opportunity to select a group of tribal members currently working in their child welfare or social service programs to build a relational leadership collective. These cultural keepers will work together with tribal elders to identify the members of the collective and select a project that will work best for the tribal child welfare or social service programs. Goal: To design and implement a tribal relationship leadership development model based on the specific tribal community culture.

Retention Strategy: Clinical Supervision and Coaching Supervision

  • The work of child welfare staff serving children and families is clinical in nature and requires specific skills that must be developed and sharpened. Many child welfare supervisors seek knowledge and tools that will aid them in the delivery of supervision. Competent clinical supervision practices enable the supervisor to guide workers on issues of ethics and cultural and linguistic competence. These practices can improve outcomes for children and families and focus on growth and professional development for staff. In addition, providing competent clinical supervision will allow staff to work towards their clinical license, a well-researched retention strategy.
  • Goal
    • To implement a clinical supervision program in jurisdictions that includes coaching and mentorship needed to build a collaborative relationship based on trust, confidentiality, support, and empathy. This strategy will be instrumental in providing the appropriate support for the current workforce including those with lived expertise. This clinical supervision and coaching program must be culturally and linguistically competent and adaptable to meet the specific needs across each area of child welfare practice. Goal: To assist jurisdictions with designing an organizational structure that will identify a qualified licensed clinical social worker who can offer clinical supervision hours toward licensure; provide guidance on developing supervision contracts; and partner with direct supervisors as task supervisor if they do not hold the credentials for licensure

Recruitment Strategy: Public Child Welfare Agency and University Partnerships

  • Like in education, there are unprecedentedly high vacancy rates in public child welfare agencies. Currently, many public child welfare agencies do not have applicants for their open positions. Child welfare jurisdictions need to recruit more staff to serve across all areas of the child welfare continuum. Historically, the CB-funded title IV-E stipend programs have partnered with schools of social work and jurisdictions to identify human capital through recruiting recent social work graduate students ready to join the child welfare workforce. Today, many jurisdictions report that schools of social work are not able to meet the demand for new child welfare workers on their own.
  • Goal
    • To provide technical assistance to develop new university partnerships between local colleges and universities and the public child welfare agency. The plans will include identifying and coordinating with a diverse group of educational institutions that are willing to create new career paths and to work in partnership with jurisdictions to identify internship and new employee opportunities. This work will lead to identifying a workforce dedicated to culturally and linguistically competent child welfare, and supporting by providing financial stipends, educational support, and new career opportunities. Innovative plans may expand beyond schools of social work and will require new collaborations and a fresh approach to recruiting, selecting, training, and supporting the child welfare workforce.
  • Goal
    • To fund stipends for social work and non-social work programs through university partnerships and provide support to students as they transition into workplace placements.

Recruitment and Retention Strategy: National Campaign and Knowledge Development, Management, and Dissemination

  • As it implements the program activities and strategies listed above, NCWWI will build and share knowledge about the child welfare workforce nationally. Specifically, NCWWI will examine the relationship between the quality of the workforce and well-being outcomes of children, youth, and families.


  • To provide information to jurisdictions through new technologies and innovative strategies such as, but not limited to, newsletters, publications, webinars, podcasts, and other media on workforce development topics, such as best practices in child welfare workforce leadership, recruitment, selection, retention, and organizational effectiveness. These efforts must include a repository of resources for child welfare leaders of color who participate in the leadership development model through NCWWI.


  • To create a child welfare workforce campaign and digital marketing strategy designed and led by individuals with lived expertise and those who work directly with children and families to support public child welfare systems and improve public perception.

Funding Information

  • Estimated Total Funding: $5,000,000
  • Award Ceiling: $5,000,000
  • Award Floor: $4,000,000

Project Period

60-month project period with five 12-month budget periods.

Eligible Applicants

  • Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Public and State controlled institutions of higher education
  • Private institutions of higher education
  • Nonprofits that do not have a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education

Additional Information on Eligibility

  • Eligibility is open to public or other non-profit institutions of higher learning and to public or other non-profit agencies and organizations engaged in research or child welfare activities  Institutions of higher education may receive awards provided they are not for-profit entities. CB will accept applications that represent partnerships among organizations with relevant experience. Applicants may collaborate with organizations specializing in their assigned tasks. Applications from collaborations must identify a primary applicant responsible for administering the cooperative agreement. Applications from individuals (including sole proprietorships) and foreign entities are not eligible and will be disqualified from competitive review and funding under this funding opportunity. Faith-based and community organizations that meet the eligibility requirements are eligible to receive awards under this funding opportunity. Faith-based organizations may apply for this award on the same basis as any other organization, as set forth at and, subject to the protections and requirements, ACF will not, in the selection of recipients, discriminate against an organization on the basis of the organization’s religious character, affiliation, or exercise.

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