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Publication Date


Document Type



School for Social Work


Child welfare, Child welfare workers, Social work education, Social service-Training, Caring, Human caring, Workforce, Training


As child welfare workers come to the field with a variety of educational backgrounds, they may not possess (a) the foundational knowledge for assessing child welfare needs from an ecological framework or (b) the knowledge of issues such as attachment, trauma, and the mental health status of the children and families they serve (Mathieson, Cash, Barbanell-Johnson, Smith & Graham, 2006). Using the concept of human caring, this study was designed to assess social work students' commitment to work in child welfare. BSW and MSW students from schools in Connecticut (N=244) were recruited and participated in this study to examine the "human caring" factors that shape students' interest in child welfare and how these factors relate to their child welfare knowledge, level of confidence, and career interests. In this study, a statistically positive correlation was found between human caring behaviors and social work students' interest in working in child welfare. Despite concerns about workforce issues in child welfare, a majority of social work students expressed moderate levels of interest in taking child welfare courses and exploring child welfare opportunities in the public sector. No statistically significant differences were found in child welfare interest between BSW and MSW students. Implications for the study are discussed.




ix, 169 pages. Ph.D. Dissertation-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma., 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 124-137)