Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program (CWTAP)

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Looking for a career in public child welfare?

CWTAP may be right for you!

CWTAP offers specialized educational seminars and tuition assistance to students accepted into the MSW program who are interested in working in public child welfare. 

"The UW Tacoma follows established public health and safety guidelines intended to reduce the impact and spread of COVID-19 in the broader community while at the same time understanding that individual decisions have collective impact."  - UWT Office of the Chancellor.  For more information regarding facts, resources, what phase campus is in etc. CLICK HERE.

The UW Tacoma CWTAP team is wholly committed to delivering a practicum experience that is as close to an "In person" practicum (within the university's guidelines) as possible.  This is being achieved by providing students with a combination of: 

One on one/group supervisions with Field Instructors; Zoom educational seminars; Interviews with experts (via Zoom) within the greater child welfare community such as Indian Child Welfare, Domestic Violence, Speaker panels with "Passion to Action" - youth and alumni of the foster care system and with "Parent Allies" - parents who've successfully navigated the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) system - just to name a couple.  Also provided are highly relevant readings, E-Learnings, articles, and videos to supplement student learning. 


  • Promotes professionalization and recruitment of social workers in public child welfare across Washington State.

  • Subsidizes the cost of the CWTAP student’s MSW education. In return, after graduation students will work for the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) for an equal amount of time they received financial assistance.

  • Provides educational seminars, mentoring support and clinical supervision to accepted CWTAP students.

  • Offers professional development opportunities through the annual Student Institute.

  • Assists CWTAP students in gaining employment with the Department of Children, Youth and Families.

Learn more about CWTAP from former students:

Quotes from alumni

Program Description:

CWTAP is a federally funded partnership between the University of Washington Seattle, the University of Washington Tacoma, Eastern Washington University, the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence and the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF).

CWTAP offers a comprehensive educational and practicum experience in Washington State’s public child welfare including:

  • Monthly full day seminars on public child welfare topics including:

    • Recognizing and investigating child abuse and neglect

    • Safety assessment, comprehensive family assessment and case planning

    • Permanency planning – reunification, guardianships  and adoption

    • Racial Disproportionality and Cultural Sensitivity

    • Indian Child Welfare

    • Family Court Systems and Testifying

    • Forensic Interviewing in sexual abuse and serious physical abuse cases

    • Substance Abuse

    • Mental Health

    • Domestic Violence

    • Public Child Welfare Policy and Practice

  • Coordinated practicums with the Department of Children, Youth and Families for hands-on casework experience. This field experience focuses on public child welfare programs such as:

    • Child Protective Services (CPS) –Investigations and Family Assessment Response (FAR)

    • Family Voluntary Services (FVS)

    • Child & Family Welfare Services (CFWS) – out of home placement cases

    • Family Reconciliation Services (FRS)

    • Adoptions

  • Assignment of a CWTAP field instructor to support the student’s education and transfer of learning from the MSW program to application in public child welfare.

  • Financial assistance for current and potential DCYF social workers.

CWTAP is designed for:

  • Students accepted into the MSW program who are interested in making a career commitment to public child welfare.

  • DCYF employees interested in obtaining an MSW to enhance their knowledge and skills in delivering services to families and children.

  • DSHS/state employees interested in obtaining an MSW degree and making a career commitment to public child welfare.

Working for the Department of Children, Youth and Families

The videos below showcase real-life social workers in current job settings at the Department of Children, Youth and Families. Each individual interviewed shares personal insights into work environments, common tasks, benefits and challenges:

Job Preview Videos

  Frequently Asked Questions

Student Institute

The Annual CWTAP Student Institute is a collaboration of the Child Welfare Training & Advancement Programs from all three participating universities (Eastern Washington University, University of Washington Seattle, and University of Washington Tacoma) and the Department of Children, Youth and Families.

The Institute provides student-centered learning and networking opportunities in an atmosphere of mutual support and peer education. Students present on topics that directly relate to professional child welfare practice and the mission and goals of the Department of Children, Youth and Families. The Institute also offers opportunities for collaboration and networking with some of the State's most highly-regarded leaders in child welfare.

  CWTAP Team

Rick Butt, MSW
Director, Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program (CWTAP)

Rick has over 28 years of child welfare practice and management experience working in British Columbia, Canada, California and Washington. His expertise includes adolescent development and transitioning issues, leadership development, community engagement and partnership, policy and program development and implementation, and fiscal and contractual accountability.

He currently is the Director for the Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program (CWTAP) at the University of Washington, Tacoma. Prior to this position he was the Region 3 Director for the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence. Rick was also the statewide Independent Living Program Manager with DSHS Children's Administration. In this position he successfully implemented Passion to Action – the Department of Children, Youth and Families' first (and only) statewide youth advisory board. This board brought “authentic youth voice” into the development and implementation of policies and procedures affecting child welfare practice in Washington State. Rick also led the successful implementation of the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) bringing Washington State to the forefront as one of the leaders in the country for NYTD implementation.

Rick is very passionate about adolescents and transitioning youth. He is a strong ally and advocate in making sure all youth in foster care are given the necessary tools to be successful in adulthood.


Susan Welk
Program Coordinator, CWTAP

As the Program Coordinator for CWTAP at the UW Tacoma, Susan provides administrative support to the Director, four Field Instructors and assists with a wide range of office operations. She began her career with the University of Washington Seattle, School of Social Work as a Program Coordinator for Partners for Our Children (POC) for 2 years and then began as Program Coordinator with CWTAP in 2010. Prior to this, Susan worked at the Department of Children, Youth and Families (King County) first as a Paralegal and then Administrative Assistant for 12 years. It was during this time that she discovered her passion for child welfare and social work that continues to this day. Watching students pursue their dreams of working in the social work profession is the highlight of her work with CWTAP.  Susan has a 29 year old daughter, loves football, baseball and reading.


Moniquetra Slater, MSW
CWTAP Field Instructor

Moniquetra Slater, MSW is one of three Field Instructors for the Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program (CWTAP) here at UW Tacoma. She is both proud and honored to be able to work for CWTAP and the School of Social Work and Criminal Justice, feeling as though this is her way of giving back to the program that helped to mold and develop her social work career. Ms. Slater graduated from UW Tacoma in 2008 with her Masters of Social Work degree, and was a CWTAP student herself. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Pacific Lutheran University, where she also minored in Sociology and Religion. Ms. Slater has been working with children and families since 2002, including work as a Children’s Mental Health Counselor and as a Child Welfare Social Worker with the State of Washington. During her time with the State Ms. Slater worked in the following programs: Family Voluntary Services, Tribal Payment Liaison, Adoptions, Child and Family Welfare Services, and Indian Child Welfare as both a front-line worker and supervisor.

Ms. Slater is very passionate about providing best-practice services to children and families. This involves working diligently to build appropriate rapport and effectively engaging with everyone who has a vested interest in the success of the family.

“Children and families need to know that you care, not by hearing you say it, but by showing them through your efforts to improve their situation. One must work consistently to diminish the inherent power that the helping professional has over the case plan, incorporating both the client’s own needs and personal concerns in order for a successful, lasting resolution to occur.”

- M. Slater, MSW 2016

Ms. Slater’s interests include Public Child Welfare, childhood resiliency, mental health services, and race & equality advocacy. Her 5-year goals include helping to develop a Child Welfare class for the School of Social Work and Criminal Justice, and planning a restful vacation to Hawaii.


Keli Drake, MSW
CWTAP Field Instructor

Keli Drake joined the Social Work Program faculty in 2015. She has over 18 years of practice experience in Washington State public child welfare services. Prior to coming to UWT, Keli was the statewide Child Protective Services Program Manager and Policy Manager with DSHS Department of Children, Youth and Families.


Mahealani Kalilikane, MSW
CWTAP Field Instructor

Mahealani (pronounced MAH-HAY-YAH-LAH-KNEE) Kalilikane graduated from University of Hawaii at Hilo in 2001 with a Bachelors of Science in Sociology and Communication and then completed a Master’s of Social Work (MSW) at the University of Washington, Seattle in 2005. She began her social work profession in 1994 working with foster care youth in a non-profit agency in Hawaii, and then moved to Tacoma, Washington where she continued to work with the foster care population. Ms. Kalilikane began her work with Washington State Department of Social and Health Services Department of Children, Youth and Families in 2004 and held social work positions in Child Family Welfare Services, Child Health Education Tracking, Afterhours and Adoption.

Ms. Kalilikane joined the University of Washington Tacoma Social Work Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program (CWTAP) in June 2015 where she serves as a faculty field instructor for CWTAP students engaged in the achievement of their MSW degree. In her role, she is responsible for educating and training students in the master’s in social work degree program while preparing them to gain and maintain permanent social work positions within the Department of Children, Youth and Families.


Hermenia Butler, MSW
CWTAP Field Instructor

Hermenia Butler earned her BA in Psychology and her MSW from the University of Washington. She is also a graduate of the Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program (CWTAP).

Ms. Butler began her social work career over 20 years ago as a counselor at a juvenile rehabilitation facility working with incarcerated youth. After receiving her MSW in 1998, Ms. Butler obtained a job with Washington State’s Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). Over the years, she worked in several programs including Child Protective Services and Child and Family Welfare Services, first as a social worker then CFWS Supervisor, Area Administrator and most recently as the Regional Programs Administrator covering all 13 counties in Region 3. Her expertise includes curriculum development and training to help address the issues of Racial Disproportionality and Father Engagement within the DCYF.

Ms. Butler joined the CWTAP team July 2017.