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Western Wisconsin Partnership Marks 10th Anniversary at UWRF

By Kate Smith
University Communications
DEC. 19, 2008--The Western Wisconsin Partnership at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls celebrated its 10th year on campus as a training provider to child welfare workers in 24 counties of western Wisconsin.

“Geographically, one third of the state depends on UWRF’s social work program, which means our university and social work program have a huge impact,” said Jennifer Borup, project director of WWP and a professor in the UWRF social work program.

The partnership includes human/social service agencies from the participating counties, the Wisconsin Division of Children and Family Services and UWRF. Over the past decade, WWP has provided competency-based training programs via workshops at various locations throughout the region and has added new delivery methods to its roster of workshops.

Borup said the partnership continually researches current best practices in the field to develop new workshops and alternative delivery methods for its training services. In addition to a shift to team-based training, Borup said technology is also changing the way child welfare training is delivered.

“On our website, we have a community web where counties can download components to help them in their training,” she said. “They can change them to better fit their county, yet they don’t have to create something from scratch.”

The community web features training components in formats such as Power Point and audio narratives for each county’s convenience. Borup said many participants are enthusiastic about the online format because it allows the smaller counties that make up the majority of the partnership to access to training without having to incur travel expenses.

While workshops are mainly designed for new child protective service workers, advanced courses also are available for those experienced in the field and workshops are targeted toward groups such as foster parents and school staff. “The family plays a part in identifying resources and working with the case worker to create a plan for change,” said Borup.

Upcoming workshops such as, “Supervisor Strategies for Supporting Engaging & Focusing Skills,” “Engaging to Build Trusting Relationships” and “Basic Cognitive Graphic Interviewing: A Multidisciplinary Approach,” are targeted to supervisors and foster parents as well as child protective service workers.

Current workshops also address the shift in child welfare training to a more team-based approach. Local and national experts and agency staff trainers develop the research-based programs.

Agency directors and workshop participants also provide input in regards to program development. “Our training manager and I attend every workshop, so we are really able to know what people’s needs are,” Borup explained. “I also meet with agency directors, and the training manager attends the monthly regional supervisor meetings.”

The collaborative nature and constant feedback are what make the partnership a strong program, according to Borup. “The partnership is an amazing way for the university to be a critical part of our community. It makes our community big—it’s not just the immediate area; it’s the 24 counties as well.”

The Wisconsin Partnerships began in 1991 with the Northeastern Wisconsin Partnership out of UW-Green Bay and moved to UWRF. Based on its initial success in working with human/social service agencies in 28 counties, as well as with local Native American tribes, partnerships were then developed out of UW-Madison (Southern Partnership), UW-Milwaukee (Milwaukee Partnership) and UWRF, in 1998.

Staff includes Outreach Specialist Mary Lou Bean, Training Manager Kelli Bowe and Borup plus 21 trainers from throughout the state. For more information on the Western Wisconsin Partnership, visit the website at or contact Borup at 715-425-3370 or


Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:09:21 Central Daylight Time


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