Marshall's Department of Social Work provides job opportunities to students through child welfare program

Updated 7 years ago Special to HNN Provided by Marshall University

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -  For the past 20 years, the Marshall University Department of Social Work has given students the chance to secure jobs before they even graduate. This opportunity is sustained through the Title IVE Child Welfare Scholar program, which allows social work students to receive a stipend if they agree to work for the West Virginia Division of Health and Human Resources (WV DHHR) for the amount of time they received the stipend, with a one-year minimum after graduation.

Jo Dee Gottlieb, primary investigator for the Title IVE Child Welfare project and a social work professor in the College of Health Professions, said the purpose of this program is to professionalize child welfare services while preparing students to be potential employees at the WV DHHR.

"Our students receive a stipend each semester for up to $3,000 and sign a contract to complete a 400-hour practicum and work for DHHR in child welfare after they graduate," Gottlieb said. "Students gain amazing clinical experience during their practicum work and have the opportunity to obtain jobs in Child Protective Services, foster care, adoption and youth services."

Hope Smith, community services manager at the Cabell County DHHR and a 1995 graduate of the Department of Social Work, was one of the very first students to receive the child welfare stipend. Smith said this program gave her the chance to experience a profession she otherwise would not have chosen for herself and one she still enjoys to this day.

"When I went into social work, I wasn't sure where I wanted to go in my career. The last place I thought I would work was in public child welfare, but the stipend gave me the opportunity to experience something rewarding and I fell in love with it," Smith said. "Child welfare is a great starting place for any social worker, especially at DHHR, because you get exposed to everything in our field. It's a great stepping stone to just about any job in the social work profession."

Social work student Mikyla Stewart, 22, of Parkersburg, West Virginia, said she knew she wanted to work in Child Protective Services before learning about the program. When Stewart realized she could get financial assistance while working closely with experienced professionals in her field, she said the decision was simple.

"When I heard about the child welfare program, I knew I would be able to get my education while working toward a lifelong career," Stewart said. "I am so grateful I made this decision in the first place because it just shows the heart of my profession. They have taught us everything we need to know about social work and how to be good people. I hope this program sets an example for other departments on campus and across the state, so they too can provide these amazing opportunities for their students."

Five Marshall students have received the program's stipend for the 2014 academic year:
Mikyla Stewart, Alyssa Hall, Cindy McDaniel, Melissa Nibert and Tiffany Adkins. 

For more information on the Title IVE Child Welfare program, contact Gottlieb at To learn more about WV DHHR and their career opportunities for recent graduates, visit To find out more about our Department of Social Work, visit