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University of Washington School of Social Work and Partners for Our Children Awarded Top National Recognition

Public-Private Partnership Receives 2008 American Public Human Services

Academic Excellence Award

SEATTLE, Sept. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The University of Washington School of Social Work (UWSSW) and its new innovative center, Partners for Our Children (POC) has been selected by the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) as the recipient of the 2008 Academic Excellence Award.

"The partnership is a unique public-private collaboration between the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), the University of Washington School of Social Work, and private sector committed to making positive changes in the child welfare system," said Robin Arnold-Williams, Secretary of the Washington Department of Social and Health Services who nominated the School.

"We are honored to receive this top national honor for excellence on behalf of children and families," said Edwina Uehara, Dean of the School of Social Work. "We believe by bringing not only the resources of the UWSSW, but all the disciplines of the university together, we will reach our goal of improving services provided by the child welfare system."

In addition to serving as the home for POC, the UW School of Social Work also houses the Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program, which focuses on training new social workers and those already in the field in state-of-the-art child welfare practice.

"We are grateful for and honored by the recognition provided by this human services award," said Mark Courtney, executive director, POC. "It is through partnerships such as ours -- grounded in rigorous evidence about what families truly need -- that real child welfare reform will take place."

POC's work involves research directed towards improving understanding of the needs of children and families, development and evaluation of promising approaches to improving outcomes for foster children, workforce development activities intended to improve the child welfare workforce, and public education and communication. A variety of institutions have taken on one or more of these objectives, but none has integrated them all into one independent organization.

Since July 2007, POC and DSHS have been working together to better understand how best to increase resources for foster family recruitment and retention, examining family reunification standards across the state, analyzing the state's placement stability rates compared to other states, and working to improve birth parent engagement.

"Partners for Our Children already has proven to be a valuable partner in bringing together the state's experience, the university's mind power and the resources of the private sector to better understand the factors that impact the well-being of children," said Arnold-Williams. "State agencies can't do it alone. This type of public-private partnership is one way that can better solve complex human problems."

The Academic Excellence Award was established to recognize academic programs or institutions for outstanding contributions to the field of human services.

"Colleges and universities can be important partners in efforts to serve clients and improve outcomes for vulnerable children, adults and families in the communities we serve," said Jerry Friedman, executive director of the APHSA. "The School has demonstrated its commitment to excellence in human services."

In 2007, over 32,000 of the most vulnerable children in Washington state received services while living in foster care or group care or after leaving care. On a given day, about 10,000 children and youth are part of the "system" because they can't safely stay at home with their parents. Because this population of children and families faces a complex set of challenges, it will take a multi-disciplinary approach to sustained improvement in outcomes for children.

About Partners for Our Children

POC was launched in 2007 with more than $12 million in direct and in-kind investments, including a $10 million donation from Connie and Steve Ballmer, $1 from State of Washington's 2007 Supplemental Budget, and $1 million per year in salaries and in-kind operational contributions from the University of Washington. The goal of POC is to improve the well-being of children and youth in out-of home care.

About the University of Washington School of Social Work

The UWSSW was created in 1934 and is currently ranked #4 (tied with Columbia) in the U.S. The School enjoys the highest level of external and federal research grants and contracts among schools of social work nationwide. The students contribute over 175,000 hours of community service each year though their practicum.

About the APHSA

The APHSA is a nonprofit, bipartisan organization of individuals and agencies concerned with human services. Its members include all state and territorial human service agencies, more than 150 local agencies, and several thousand individuals who work in or otherwise have an interest in human service programs. Its mission is to develop, promote and implement public human service policies and practices that improve the health and well-being of families, children and adults.

SOURCE Partners for Our Children
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