Campus: Fresno State -- September 1, 2006

New Social Welfare Center Focuses On Priorities For Central California

The Department of Social Work Education and College of Health and Human Services at California State University, Fresno today officially opened a center to offer research, training and evaluation services that address social welfare issues and policies with regional impact.

The Social Welfare Evaluation, Research and Training Center (SWERT) will be led by Dr. Jane Middleton, who also chairs Fresno State's Department of Social Work Education. She provides oversight and leadership to faculty, staff and students and plays a leading role in developing projects and programs to help children, families and elders. Middleton is president of the National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter.

"During this next year, the center will be involved in identifying more community partners, involving students in research activities and pursuing additional external funding for our projects," said Middleton. "We will continue to provide ongoing training and evaluation services and look at ways in which we can expand these services."

The center supports evaluation and research conducted by Department of Social Work Education faculty and students, which helps policymakers, human service providers and stakeholders understand social welfare conditions and needs in Central California.

SWERT houses four projects and programs that help the community:

  • The Central California Training Academy, which serves an 11-county region of Central California, has trained newly hired child welfare staff and supervisors of public child welfare agencies. The academy has been adopted as a statewide model, allowing Fresno State to develop partnerships throughout the Valley and assess whether current social services are meeting people's needs.
  • The Specialized Foster Parent Training Project trains more than 375 foster parents in Fresno County each year on topics such as CPR, first-aid and attachment and separation issues. The project instructs parents new to foster parenting and offers technical assistance to ensure that families and children receive the support they need.
  • The Central California Area Social Services Consortium is an example of a partnership that has expanded throughout the years and benefited from multiple collaborative efforts among counties and universities. It provides a forum to discuss ideas and develop strategies that address pressing human service issues faced by residents in the region. The consortium is a resource for county human service directors in strategic planning, action-oriented research, program and policy training, and revenue/resource management training.
  • The Claims Integrity Unit was developed at Fresno State out of the consortium. TheClaims Integrity Unit provides quality assurance, evaluation and training to ensure proper use of federal funding for participation in foster care pre-placement and other eligible administrative activities.

Contact: Shirley Melikian Armbruster, (559) 278-5292 or (559) 593-1815

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