CalSWEC facilitates and supports statewide partnerships for the education and training of social workers to ensure culturally responsive, effective, and high-quality health and social service delivery to the people of California.


In support of its Mission, CalSWEC’s goals are to: 

  • Prepare a diverse group of social workers for careers in human services, with special emphasis in the fields of child welfare, integrated behavioral health, and aging
  • Define and operationalize a continuum of social work education and training
  • Engage in evaluation, research, and dissemination of best practices in social work

Created in 1990 through​ a partnership of social work educators and practitioners, CalSWEC is dedicated to developing a professional social service workforce to effectively serve California's diverse population.

The focus of CalSWEC, hosted by the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley, is on public child welfare, integrated behavioral health, and aging. ​


When Dr. Harry Specht became Dean of the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley in 1977, only one of 200 students in the school’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program was performing field work in a public social service agency. Most were training to be clinicians, with many intending to become private practitioners of psychotherapy. County social service agencies were suspicious of schools of social work, perceiving little connection between their needs and what was being taught in the graduate programs. Dean Specht and the teaching staff set out to change that course and revised the school’s mission—to produce professionals for careers in the publicly supported services and to serve vulnerable and disadvantaged populations. By the late 1980s, schools of social work, professional organizations, and public agencies began exploring possibilities for collaboration to face the changes in the social work profession.

In 1990, when the academic community and public social services joined forces to create the California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC), the primary goal was to improve the commitment of social workers to work in the public sector with children and families. The Title IV-E Child Welfare Stipend Program was first implemented in 1992. Funded by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) with federal pass-through monies, the program focused on both training new MSWs and offering degree programs to current public child welfare workers. The Regional Training Academy Coordination Project, launched in 1996 and funded by CDSS, provided training goals and modules for newly-hired social workers, as well as a forum for ongoing collaboration and continuing education for social workers at all levels of experience. 

CalSWEC launched the Aging Initiative in 2004 in recognition of the need to recruit and train professional social workers to address the needs of aging Californians and their families. The Mental Health Stipend Program, funded through the Mental Health Services Act, launched in 2005. In 2017 the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) awarded CalSWEC its first HRSA grant for Integrated Behavioral Health, offering MSW students in four universities in the greater San Francisco bay area to increase their skills working in integrated primary care settings. In its first funded effort to address aging-related workforce development goals, the Aging Initiative launched the Adult Protective Services (APS) Stipend Program in Fall 2019.

Today, CalSWEC continues to serve as a national model of leadership in school/agency partnerships. In the face of today’s increasingly complex population needs and greater emphasis on service integration, CalSWEC continues to adapt and to fulfill its mission—to provide a continuum of education for social work students and public practitioners towards building a stable, well-prepared, culturally competent, diverse, and committed social service workforce to serve Californians.


1987 – The Bay Area Social Services Consortium (BASSC) is created, becoming the foundation for CalSWEC.

1990 – The California Center for Graduate Social Work Education for the Public and Non-profit Social Services is launched. Dean Specht renames it the California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC).

1992 – CDSS enters into a contract with CalSWEC to provide federal Title IV-E money for stipends for full-time child welfare MSW students and for staff to implement the program.

1996 – CalSWEC initiates the California Public Social Services Training Academy Project—today's Child Welfare In-Service Training Program—to provide in-service training and education to public agency staff in all California counties.

1999 – The American Indian Recruitment (AIR) Program, initiated at UC Berkeley in 1981, is adopted by CalSWEC and operates from California State University, Stanislaus to identify and recruit Native American Indian college students for MSW studies. AIR is restructured to a regional model in 2011, and renamed SERVE: Indigenous Social Workers for Change in 2013.

2004 – CalSWEC initiates the Title IV-E Program for BA in social work at six CSU campuses. CalSWEC launches the Aging Initiative.

2005 – Following passage of the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), CalSWEC enters into a contract with the California Department of Mental Health and inaugurates the Mental Health Program (MHP). MHP is renamed the Integrated Behavioral Health Program (IBH) in 2016.

2009 – CalSWEC inaugurates the Title IV-E Pathway Program, a distance education program for child welfare practitioners in rural and remote counties.

2017 – CalSWEC initiates implementation of its Strategic Plan, including recomposition of its Advisory Board and Committees. CalSWEC's IBH Program receives a U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) grant for the San Francisco Bay Area Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) Stipend Program, and additional funding for the Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) Stipend Program in 2018.

2019 – With funding from CDSS, BASSC, and the City and County of San Francisco, CalSWEC launches a regional pilot of the Adult Protective Services (APS) MSW Stipend Program.

2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic forces remote learning and the closure of schools nationwide. Beginning in March, CalSWEC, along with the universities in its consortium and field placement sites, shifts all operations and in-person training to a virtual environment.

2021 – CalSWEC's IBH Program receives a new Behavioral Health Workforce Education & Training grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) to continue the San Francisco Bay Area Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) MSW Training Program through academic year 2024-25.

2022 – CalSWEC's Adults and Aging Program receives funding from CDSS to launch a statewide Adult Protective Services (APS) MSW Training Program.

2023 – CalSWEC's IBH Program launched the new statewide Public Behavioral Health (PBH) MSW Training Program. CalSWEC's Adults and Aging Program launched the new statewide Adult Protective Services (APS) MSW Training Program.