Social Work partners with Department of Human Services to revitalize child welfare education project

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Elizabeth Aparicio, PhD, MSW, LCSW-C, (808) 956-6120
Assistant Professor, School of Social Work
Theresa Kreif, MSW, LSW Faculty and Assistant to t, (808) 956-6120
Faculty and Assistant to the Dean, School of Social Work
Posted: Dec 16, 2016

2016 HCWEC Scholars and their ohana with Dr. Elizabeth Aparicio and Cheri Tarutani.
2016 HCWEC Scholars and their ohana with Dr. Elizabeth Aparicio and Cheri Tarutani.

The Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work has announced the revitalization of the Hawaiʻi Child Welfare Education Collaboration Project (HCWEC) in partnership with State of Hawaiʻi Department of Human Services-Child Welfare Services. ​HCWEC seeks to provide a training pipeline to develop a highly competent local workforce in public child welfare.

HCWEC provides its Scholars with a stipend to support their final years of graduate education in social work, which includes specialized coursework in child and family social work, child welfare electives, field placement, and a field integration seminar. Students receive hands-on experience with the guidance of Child Welfare Services professionals. Current Child Welfare Services social workers volunteering as field instructors receive educational support through professional development resources, including online training modules.

“The field of social work faces challenges nationwide in recruiting and retaining skilled workers, yet U.S. Department of Labor statistics show the profession growing significantly through the year 2020 due to the many children and families who benefit from the wide-ranging services provided by social workers each day,” said Cheri Tarutani, HCWEC Project Manager.

Tarutani continued, “However, in support of programs like HCWEC, studies demonstrate that people who graduate from agency-university partnership social work programs tend to stay in child welfare longer. We know this to be true from experiences within our own child welfare training program here, so we are thrilled for the opportunity to help the latest round of up-and-coming students in social work reach their full potential and make a difference right here in Hawaiʻi.”

The first HCWEC cohort was admitted in 1998. Over the course of ten years, until 2008, a total of 109 students were accepted into the program, and 100 of those students successfully completed the program. With the relaunch of the program this year, the HCWEC Project accepted 10 new Scholars as part of the 2016 cohort.

The Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work is committed to addressing social work shortages in child welfare through its partnership with Child Welfare Services to increase student preparedness for work in the challenging child welfare field. Upon graduation, Scholars will have a two-year employment commitment to Child Welfare Services in Hawaiʻi. Students will graduate with specialized knowledge and skills, technology skills and demonstrated professional use of self to contribute to the field of social work.

Said Principal Investigator Dr. Elizabeth Aparicio, “HCWEC is an important support as we serve children and families statewide. We are excited to train new social workers to improve children’s well-being and to nurture safe, secure families.”

The HCWEC website may be viewed at

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