Comprehensive, Culturally Approriate, and Competency-Based Workforce Development.

Child Welfare Development Services

COVID-19 Update

In the midst of the global COVID-19 crisis, CWDS has worked tirelessly to convert much-needed training into a format that will allow staff to attend training from wherever they are and following the governor’s gathering guidance.

Doing so has allowed CWDS to be highly innovative, using technology to enhance and expand our workforce development offerings. We have worked quickly but have ensured that we remain planful by:

  • Surveying county partners to assess their readiness and capacity to participate in virtual offerings
  • Surveying trainers to assess who is interested in modifying core classes and delivering them in a virtual setting
  • Developing and delivering a webinar on hosting a training using the Zoom platform
  • Developing and planning a delivery of a training on how to modify curriculum designed for the classroom so it can be effectively delivered in a virtual setting

We have leaned on our core values of innovation, collaboration, and flexibility in ways we never have before to enhance our work and to continue to impact the workforce. We have spent time thinking about how our business model might be improved, how our services might be streamlined, and how our counties might benefit based on the work we are putting in today to meet their changing needs.

While this is a challenging time, we are taking this opportunity to find ways to grow as an organization to make an even larger impact in the future.

Learn more about CWDS’ latest updates in our March 2020 Newsletter.

CWDS Vision

As a result of our work, the workforce employed by public child welfare agencies and the children and families served by them will experience increased empowerment, positive changes, an enhanced quality of life, and feel a sense of inspiration and hope.

CWDS Vision

About Us

Child Welfare Development Services (CWDS) is a program of the Academy for Professional Excellence at San Diego State University School of Social Work.  We work in partnership with southern region universities and their Schools of Social Work.

CWDS, sometimes referred to as the “Southern Academy,” is one of five child welfare training academies in the state of California. Established in July 1996, it serves the counties of Imperial, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Riverside. Additional workforce development, including advanced training, is offered to the counties of Ventura and Los Angeles. The program works collaboratively with several Universities offering social work degree programs: San Diego State University, California State University, San Bernardino, Loma Linda UniversityCalifornia State University, Fullerton and California State University San Marcos.

Due to growth and expansion of scope, CWDS is a division, albeit the largest, of the Academy for Professional Excellence. CWDS provides workforce development to over 7,000 public child welfare staff in the region. CWDS takes pride in the delivery of comprehensive, culturally appropriate, and competency-based workforce development services. These services include expert technical assistance, implementation planning and support, leadership and organization development, and a variety of modalities to support practice development, including coaching, distance learning, simulations, in-person training and mobile applications.

The content and design of our services are intended to provide participants the knowledge, skills and values of the best in child welfare practice and research, with the ultimate goal of improving outcomes for children and families in the child welfare system.

For more about our activity, see the CWDS 2019-2020 year in review.

Regional Training Calendar

Levels of Workforce Development

CWDS offers a variety of workforce development opportunities through multiple modalities and levels of training for Child Welfare Services (CWS) staff. These include:

Expert Technical Assistance

  • Subject matter expertise
  • Evaluation
  • Research
  • Consultation

Implementation Planning and Support

  • Readiness assessment
  • Implementation planning
  • Regional convenings and learning collaboratives to support implementation of statewide and regional practices and policies
  • Facilitation of regional, statewide and national networking to support sharing of practice examples and resources


  • Core training
  • Advanced training
  • eLearning
  • Simulation training
  • Field-based training and coaching for workers, supervisors and managers
  • Leadership development
  • Podcasts and mobile applications to support brief, just-in-time training

Core courses represent the essential knowledge and skills needed to perform the tasks in Child Welfare Services (CWS). The Academy offers Core training in Child Welfare Social Work Practice, Supervision, and Management. Core courses are designed for newly hired or newly promoted staff, but are also useful to those who are transitioning into new job functions and/or those who are seeking to update their knowledge and skills in the ever changing field of child welfare.

Advanced classes build upon those offered as part of Core training. These classes are developed for staff that have the fundamental CWS skills and knowledge, but want to enhance their basic skills, knowledge or practice in a particular area. Other advanced classes may be requested by the counties based on their individual needs and developed for them. These advanced classes may relate to a newly adopted initiative, regulation or practice.

eLearning courses are offered as an alternative to classroom learning. Self-study modules for the distance learner are offered with CEs available for some courses. Webinars are also offered for live participation and recorded webinars for distance learners who may not be able to attend a live session. CEs are available for live and recorded webinars. Blended learning modules are also available where the distance learner takes a self-study module online and then attends a follow-up webinar or classroom session to focus on skill building activities.

Field-based training, also known as child welfare coaching, is an on the job, effective and strength-based practice that supports the implementation of training knowledge and best practice. Child welfare coaching is the collaboration or teaming of a coach and learner for the purpose of enhancing skills or personal development in their child welfare practice. It is learner led, in that the identified skill or goal to be explored during the coaching session is determined by the learner. The coach creates a positive, structured environment with agreed upon outcomes that are designed to allow the coach and learner to focus on the goals of the session. The session is a safe place to explore and practice strength-based critical thinking skills and does not replace supervision. It is not a place to grade performance but a place to deepen practice.

Learning collaboratives and regional convenings support statewide and regional implementation efforts. CWDS routinely offers ongoing learning collaboratives that may include in-person convenings as well as webinars to provide a space in which our counties can share successes, challenges, and expertise with one another. They support the assessment of current policies and practices, readiness for implementation, implementation planning and allow CWDS to provide technical assistance and consultation. State partners and subject matter experts are regularly brought into the process to inform our work.

CWDS Curriculum

Lineworker core curriculum is based on state-wide practice standards and child welfare competencies established by the California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC). Some of these classes are standardized throughout the State of California. The trainers deliver, in these fully standardized classes, a curriculum that has been developed by collaboration among representatives from Regional Training Academies and Child Welfare representatives across the state.

CWDS takes pride in demanding a high level of professionalism and excellence in the training provided. This is supported by a standardized trainer development policy and procedure and by an evaluation system that assists in trainer development while supporting our commitment to excellence in all classes delivered. CWDS staff is committed to best practice in Child Welfare and sees training as a major support to this effort in each of our counties. We take pride in the strong backgrounds of CWDS staff in child welfare and related fields. Staff work closely with with trainers to ensure curricula is up to date and reflects the values stated above.

ADA Statement

The Academy for Professional Excellence and Child Welfare Development Services is committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming environment that appreciates and builds on diversity. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, as amended, The Academy for Professional Excellence prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. To request accommodations, please contact your county’s Human Resources representative.

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