Early Days of the CFSTC


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 its 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 continues that process with a look back on the early days of the CFSTC.

The Children and Family Services Training Center at the University of North Dakota is celebrating its 30 years of service to social workers across the state. The CFSTC was established in March 1984 with the efforts of many individuals, including those of Ken Dawes and Don Schmid.

The CFSTC was established to provide a consistent training center for social workers in North Dakota to meet the requirements set by a few federal laws. The training center has become a national model for the country by proving that a partnership between a university and the Department of Human Services is an effective way to provide training for social workers.

"About half the states have been sued for not providing adequate training and that was never a threat in North Dakota," former Director of the division of Children and Family Services within the Department of Human Services, Don Schmid said. "North Dakota is recognized as having good training."

In 1984, the CFSTC had only two employees, with one being Roger Johnson who served as director for the first four years of the CFSTC's existence. In 1991, the training center had grown to a total of six staff and offered a variety of training opportunities including Child Welfare Practitioner Certification, Post Certification, Foster Care Conference, Foster Parent Training, Foster Teen Conference and Independent Living.

The Child Welfare Practitioner Certification was the initial training that required 15 hours of training for staff working with child abuse and neglect investigations and material covered included (but is not limited to) CFS standards, foster care requirements, how to do foster care licensing studies, case planning, and case management, and how to testify in court.

The Post Certification Training was in additional to the initial training and included how to interview sexual abuse victims, domestic violence, child abuse, relationships and alcohol and child abuse.

The CFSTC also offered a Foster Care Conference every two years for permanency planning members, cases workers and foster parents. Another conference that was held annually was the Foster Teen Conference for foster children 16 years of age or older that focused on developing skills to make the children more independent. Both of these conferences have been discontinued but other conferences do take place now.

Foster Parent Training was also offered at the CFSTC in the early days and provided basic courses, specialized courses and therapeutic foster care training to foster parents in North Dakota.

Along with doing training, the CFSTC worked a little bit with research by conducting a study in 1985 to evaluate the child abuse services in the state and how to make improvements.

In 1987, the North Dakota Legislature established the Child Welfare Research Bureau at UND to focus collecting data within the field. Studies included a residential treatment study, in-home services study, independent living study, a child abuse statistical report. The research bureau also held grant writing activities and developed and published a child welfare chart book.

Schmid said the research bureau was created due to the lack of research based information that could be used to evaluate the effectiveness within the state. The results of the research were then to be used to evaluate and shape the ways in which social workers practiced. The Child Welfare Research Bureau was disbanded in the late 1990s which Schmid said is unfortunate but thinks there will be something like this again.

"The training has changed and the Children and Family Services division has put more emphasis on different techniques and are more family focused," Schmid said.

Along with other changes, the curriculum and length of training has changed as well. Currently, the CFSTC offers Child Welfare Certification Training, Family Assessment Training, Foster and Adoptive Family Training, Foster Parent Recruitment and Retention program, and Secondary Trauma training. The CFSTC also hosts workshops, the North Dakota Childrens Justice Symposium with the North Dakota Supreme Court and the Children and Family Services Conference.