CFSTC: The Start of Training


Ashley Marquis

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines


The College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines is highlighting the CFSTC for it's many years of outstanding service. Several articles are planned to focus attention on the accomplishments of the center and its many distinguished employees over the years. This article begins that process with a look back on the history of Social Work at UND and the start of the training center.

The Children and Family Services Training Center (CFSTC) at UND is celebrating 30 years of service this year. The training center was established in 1984 but the history of social work and training for social workers in the state of North Dakota traces all the way back to the early 1900's where training has been a whirlwind of uncertainty until the 1980's.

Social work classes were first offered in 1905 at UND and a program of study was formally established in 1939. The 1930s was a time of change for the field of social work while many individuals and families suffered from the Great Depression. In 1935, North Dakota created the State Board of Public Welfare, which later became known as the Department of Human Services, to provide assistance to the people of North Dakota.

An essential aspect of social work is the additional training that is required of social work graduates before practicing in the field professionally. Training has jumped around to the hands of different organizations for many years. In the 1930s funds were available to UND to provide training to social workers to better prepare them for their jobs. However, when World War II began, the training program at UND was discontinued. Faculty would still do some summer training in the post-war years.

"When money is tight, training is the first to go," former Chair of the Social Work department, Ken Dawes said.

From then on, training bounced around between different units within the Department of Human Services and it was likely that if budget cuts were made, training staff would be reduced or cut.

In the late 1970s and the early 1980s, a few major child welfare laws were established nationally that affected the way in which social workers worked with foster children and with child abuse and neglect. These laws include the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Adoption Reform Act of 1978, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, and the Child Abuse Amendments of 1984. These laws required social workers to know how to do things such as write case plans, testify in court, do an investigation, interview, properly document, and write a petition for a removal for a child from the parents. At that time, training for social workers in the state was being done within a unit at the Department of Human Services.

Don Schmid, who was deputy director for the Children and Family Services for Department of Human Services at that time and later became Director, said that training within the unit made it so Children and Family Services did not have much control over the content and that budget issues were expected to cause a reduction in the number of trainers to train county social workers and staff.

At that point in time, Schmid thought it would be important for there to be a consistent, predictable, and sustainable training center available for the state. Schmid got in contact with Ken Dawes, who was the Chair of the Social Work Department for UND, and proposed to him the idea of UND providing training if the state provided funding. Dawes said that would be something that UND would be interested in and from then on Schmid and Dawes worked together to work out the logistics.

The CFSTC was established in March of 1984 with a small staff that worked with trainers from the eight different regions of the state focusing mostly on child welfare. Since then, the CFSTC has expanded and grown its staff and training programs.

Roger Johnson, currently an assistant professor in the Social Work Department, was hired as the first director for the CFSTC. Johnson applied for the position thinking that it would be an interesting and challenging position.

"It was very rewarding," Johnson said about his four years as being director.

Johnson also said that the establishment of the CFSTC helped child welfare organizations in the state and has been a very consistent and solid base for training.

"There has always been a high quality of training," Johnson said.

The CFSTC has changed throughout the years but has continued to provide a high quality of training and continues to operate after thirty years of hard work and dedication.