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University-Agency Collaboration: Workforce Retention and Development in Child Welfare
Original Recording Date :
Length: 1 hour

Course Format

Recorded webinar.

Description: The presentation will begin with an overview of the local partnership between UBSSW and Erie County Department of Social Services, who are participating in a national initiative of the National Child welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI).  This presentation will highlight our efforts to build child welfare leadership and workforce capacity. We will also focus on the efforts to develop racial equity and leadership in child welfare using implementation science.  Plans for enhancing and sustaining this partnership will also be discussed. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify the current challenges of workforce retention and development in child welfare in national and local contexts
  2. Describe Federal efforts to address these challenges led by the National Child Welfare Workforce Initiative (NCWWI) using an implementation science framework
  3. Discuss a local NCWWI partnership between UBSSW and Erie County Department of Social Services, with a focus on racial equity and leadership development in child welfare.

Research: Information about the work being done by the National Child Welfare Workforce Initiative can be found on their resource library website.

Target Audience: social workers, mental health practitioners, creative arts therapists, marriage and facility therapists, psychologists, addiction professionals, case managers, and other interested individuals.

Customer Service

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Annette Semanchin Jones, PhD, MSW

Associate Professor Annette Semanchin Jones, PhD, MSW joined the UB School of Social Work faculty in 2013. Semanchin Jones’ research focuses on innovative approaches in child welfare that aim to strengthen child well-being and permanency. Her research and teaching are informed by her professional experience working with children and families. She partners with public and private child welfare organizations on projects such as promoting relational permanence for youth in foster care; strengthening supportive networks for vulnerable youth; identifying supports for families and children who experience chronic neglect; and building organizational capacity to implement Evidence-Based trauma treatments.

During a 2013 project at the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota, along with other researchers and child welfare agency staff, she developed the Youth Connections Scale (YCS) to measure the number of connections, the strength of those connections, and specific types of support that foster youth (ages 15 to 21) had from caring adults. With Hillside Family of Agencies in New York State, the scale was adapted for younger children to measure the connectedness of children (ages 9 to 14) in out-of-home care to supportive and caring adults. A 2017 article in Children and Youth Services Review, “Youth Connections Scale–Child Version Pilot Study: Adapted Tool for Children in Out-of-home Placement,” discusses the development and testing of this new measure.

During her doctoral work at the University of Minnesota, Semanchin Jones received the Children’s Bureau’s National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services Dissertation Award. Her dissertation examined the implementation of a differential response approach in child welfare, focusing on the impact of this approach on racial equity outcomes.

Michael Lynch, LMSW

Michael Lynch, LMSW, is an assistant clinical professor for field education at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. He works with the field department, placing students with relevant agencies so they will have both a meaningful impact and experience. His focus stems from his belief that field work is a bridge to connect both students and the school with people, agencies and community—to work being done on the ground; giving students the opportunity to offer real help directly to those who need it, and to apply their classroom learning in real-life situations.

Before assuming his current position, Lynch spent a number of years working with the field department in various capacities, including as a faculty liaison and a field educator. Additionally, he brings experience working in a variety of social work settings including urban education, program development, child welfare and community collaborations.


Todd Sage, PhD, LMSW, MAC, CASAC II, MINT, is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the UB School of Social Work. He is a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT) and completed his dissertation data on the effective training of Motivational Interviewing. He teaches Motivational Interviewing in the UBSSW MSW program and also serves as an international trainer. Todd encourages the use of Motivational Interviewing at the Lighthouse Free Clinic where he serves as a proctor for MSW students who are gaining practice experience. 

Qi Zhou, MSW

Qi Zhou, MSW, Peking University and BA, Nanjing University is a doctoral student at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. Her research area is focusing on cross-sector collaboration in child welfare, with a particular focus on the role of trust in cross-sector partnerships. She has been working as a Graduate Assistant on a National Child Welfare Workforce Institute project, whose purpose is to build child welfare leadership and workforce, for more than 2 years.  


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