The School of Social Work has received a $450,000 contract with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to participate in the Supervisory Training to Enhance Practice project (STEP).

The University will hire five academic professional staff members to coach supervisors and mid-level administrators in child welfare agencies in a 12-county area.

“There is so much at stake when it comes to the welfare of children,” Associate Professor of Social Work Kathryn Wehrmann said. “If we can support supervisors and ultimately help develop better services, then we have performed a great public service for children and families in our state.”

Wehrmann is the director of the STEP project, which is designed to enhance the ability of DCFS to achieve critical outcomes identified by the Children’s Bureau within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The specialists will assist DCFS supervisors and managers.

“It is the supervisors on the scene who have the greatest influence on the services their workers provide,” Wehrmann said.

Requirements for specialists include an advanced degree and licensure in social work or a related human service area. Illinois State’s School of Social Work is one of six schools in the state to participate in the STEP initiative.