MANKATO — This semester, students are studying issues related to parents who are incarcerated, as well as their relationships with their children and how to still be involved in their lives.
And this is just one of many special projects happening in the Master of Social Work program at Minnesota State University thanks in part to a new graduate-level child welfare stipend program.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services recently awarded a contract for $125,680 to the Master of Social Work program to establish a graduate level Title IV-E Child Welfare Stipend Program. Matching funds from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Department of Social Work bring the contract total to $248,898.
As a result, nine students receive stipends of $10,050 this school year to aid in their studies of beginning careers in public welfare. Accepting the stipends means students must commit to working in public child welfare after graduation for each year they receive a stipend.
Funds are going to special assignments, in-service meetings, elective course work and field work focusing on public child welfare, Wingo said.
“This is a great opportunity to give students incentive to go into public welfare, where we know some of the most challenging social work occurs,” said Robin Wingo, associate professor in the Department of Social Work. “We’re really excited about it.”
Several years ago Wingo and a colleague worked to establish a stipend program at the undergraduate level. After the master’s program was accredited in 2010, their next goal was to establish the stipend program at the graduate level, Wingo said.
MSU is the first Minnesota State Colleges and Universities university to offer the program. Only two other universities in Minnesota offer it.
“This is a great opportunity to enhance the career opportunities for students interested in public child welfare and to contribute to the delivery of quality services to children in the state of Minnesota, particularly small and rural communities,” Wingo wrote in a statement.
The Department of Social Work will seek to have the initial one-year Child Welfare Stipend Program contract renewed for three years and eventually plan to merge the undergraduate and graduate programs, Wingo said.