Message from Executive Director Virginia Rondero Hernandez

A series of successes and challenges marks inaugural year leading CalSWEC

October 2, 2017

Dear CalSWEC Community,

When I was appointed CalSWEC Executive Director on September 6, 2016, my primary responsibility was to develop and implement a five-year work plan to the Strategic Plan developed and ratified by the CalSWEC Board and stakeholders/constituents. I arrived with the advantage of serving as a CalSWEC board member and principal investigator of CalSWEC Title IV-E and MHSA stipend subawards and was familiar with the charge associated with my new position and the important work already being done at CalSWEC.

During my first year as Executive Director, the organization experienced a series of successes and challenges, all of which have informed the way CalSWEC conducted business during 2016–17. Notable successes include: 

  • Reviews of all funded programs to ensure they are consistent with state and federal regulations and contract deliverables.
  • The launch of the CalSWEC Network Hub, an online platform that makes discovering and using learning materials easier for the organization’s stakeholders, social work community, and the public-at-large.
  • High-profile leadership and participation in the initial phases of the implementation of the California Child Welfare Core Practice Model, a framework to support our county child welfare agencies in sustaining and improving practice.
  • The successful transition of the MHSA Stipend Program CSIS database to the Salesforce platform and the use of the new database schema and tracking methods to guide the development of the new Title IV-E program student database and tracking system.
  • The development of the Title IV-E Program Evaluation plan, including the reinstatement of Title IV-E career path surveys, completion of the methodology for a 27-year retrospective study for Title IV-E stipend recipients to be launched in fall 2017, and the expansion of our County Workforce Study, involving 13 county child welfare agencies to date.
  • The implementation of the Common Core 3.0 curricula, the latest revision of new worker child welfare training standardized for the entire state.
  • The design and implementation of a new program evaluation plan for the Integrated Behavioral Health Program that includes data collection and analysis focused on the evaluation of the processes, experiences, and outcomes associated with the MHSA Stipend Program since its inception in AY 2005–06.
  • Securing new funding for behavioral health workforce development efforts in the form of a HRSA award to fund a Bay Area regional training initiative focused on training both MSW students and faculty in the provision of behavioral health care in integrated care settings.
  • Concluding discussions with the Executive Committee of the CalSWEC Board related to the reorganization of CalSWEC Board membership and meetings, the primary “action step” in the CalSWEC Strategic Plan. The results will be presented at the October 26 CalSWEC Board meeting. 

2016–17 also presented CalSWEC with specific challenges, including:

  • The implementation of the California Model Agreement (AB 20), which requires stipend subawardees to negotiate an indirect cost rate with their home campuses. CalSWEC staff assisted subawardees with technical assistance to inform these discussions. As a result, the CSU Office of the Chancellor authorized each campus to propose and IDC rate between 10% and 25%, depending on what level facilitates campus compliance with the Title IV-E/CalSWEC cost share requirement.

    This approval for proposing an indirect cost rate under 25% on state agreements applies indefinitely for the CalSWEC program, unless the CSU Office of the Chancellor sends a communication out to the contrary in future years. The two UC campuses have also successfully negotiated lower IDC rates with their campuses.
  • The exit of private university partners from the CalSWEC Title IV-E Stipend Program. Over the past few years, as a result of the increased burden on the public schools to generate sufficient match with the introduction of the IDC rate and to maintain program operations at historically consistent levels, the two private universities in the CalSWEC Title IV-E Stipend Program were asked to identify match sources they could leverage to remain in the program.

    The University of Southern California developed a plan to transition their Title IV-E Stipend Program completely over to the University Consortium for Children and Families (UCCF) as of the FY18–20 contract cycle. Loma Linda University will be reducing their program for the next two years, and will not be offering any CalSWEC Title IV-E stipends as of FY19–20. CalSWEC remains in communication with these campuses to provide the technical support needed to implement this transition.
  • A request from the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) to explore extending the Title IV-E Stipend Program employment obligation to four years for MSW and two years for BASW students as a means of addressing the issue of retention of county child welfare social workers. CalSWEC is prepared to discuss this issue using relevant data and evidence, and taking into account the potential challenges such a change could present to the operations of the IV-E Stipend Program.
  • Addressing the upcoming sunset of the MHSA WET funding stream, which will effectively defund all statewide behavioral health workforce development efforts previously supported through these funds, including stipend, educational capacity, loan assumption, recruitment and retention, and in-service training programs, by 2019.

I am confident that CalSWEC will be able address each of these issues, using the best evidence available to inform recommendations and decisions made.

As we move forward in 2017–18, I will continue to seek out ways to build on the strengths of the CalSWEC university-community partnership established 27 years ago and work with the CalSWEC leadership team and staff to secure the support and funding needed to sustain the mission and goals of our organization and fully implement the CalSWEC Strategic Plan.


Virginia Rondero Hernandez

Executive Director and Principal Investigator, CalSWEC

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