Education is the key to professional success, so the Academic Partnerships (AP) program connects a variety of students to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) while they are determining whether they want to pursue a career in child welfare or seek higher levels of educational attainment. The AP Program is administered by School of Social Work staff through the partnership between DCFS and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign under the Office of Workforce Development.
The program has three components which include the University Partnership (UP), Academic Internships (AI), and DCFS Job Shadowing (JS). The University Partnership below collaborates with colleges and universities to embed child welfare employee pre-service trainings within existing social work or human interest related course work. Upon completing the pre-services as offered through their respective schools that are part of the partnership, students can be eligible more quickly for child welfare employee licensure than an employee candidate who has not taken the employee pre-service coursework. The students also enjoy the benefit of learning more about Illinois child welfare prior to choosing an internship or applying for employment in the field. The number of schools partnering in this program continues to grow annually.
The Academic Internship component of this program accepts and processes applications from participants desiring an academic internship with DCFS. While internships are widely sought for direct service roles, this program additionally supports the placement of interns in many other related DCFS divisions that support child welfare practice in Illinois. The number of intern candidates applying and subsequently being matched to DCFS offices statewide continues to grow each year as this program continues outreach and recruitment efforts.
For many prospective future employees, job shadowing is the perfect support they need as they consider coursework, an internship, or an eventual career in social work or more specifically, child welfare. The Job Shadowing component allows interested participants to be matched with DCFS staff for two days of job shadowing. These applications and subsequent placement matches are facilitated for DCFS through the work of the UIUC staff under this program.