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June 2019Vol. 20, No. 5Study Shows Importance of Practical Field Training, Mentorship for Newly Hired Workers

A new study of the field training experiences for newly hired child welfare workers points to the need to integrate classroom knowledge and skills with actual field practice and provide supervisory support from certified child welfare workers.

A random sample of newly hired workers in Florida was selected to participate in telephone interviews regarding field training experiences. The interviews revealed that almost half of all new workers had positive or meaningful field experience, about 40 percent did not, and the rest had mixed experiences. Those reporting generally positive experiences found that field experience offered them important and realistic job exposure, while those who did not believed they had received incomplete training and lacked the professional guidance they needed during the training to move forward.

The study found that successful field experience depends on the levels at which classroom learning is integrated into field practice, structure is provided, practice takes place in disrupted environments, and certified child welfare workers mentor newly hired workers.

The authors note that, due to the diverse educational backgrounds of workers, preservice training can help to ensure that workers can effectively deliver child welfare services. Field practice gives new workers their first opportunity at receiving feedback on their child welfare practice skills and on using constructive criticism to improve their practice. The study recommends that certified and newly hired workers be afforded the time needed to work together on training content in a supportive environment.

"Field training experiences of child welfare workers: Implications for supervision and field education," by Melissa Radey, Lisa Schelbe, & Erin A. King (Clinical Social Work Journal, 47), is available at