ATLANTA — Jackie Williams (B.S.W. ’22) is graduating at the top of her class as a scholar in Georgia’s Title IV-E Public Child Welfare Education Program, a federally funded stipend program designed to expand the ranks and strengthen professionalism in those who serve the state’s families and children through the Georgia Division of Family & Children Services (DFCS).
Early on, Williams had aspired to be a social worker — and a Panther. She transferred to Georgia State from Atlanta Metropolitan State College at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Before my dad passed away in 2020, we always talked about my going to Georgia State,” said Williams. “I always wanted to be a Panther.”
Williams describes her professors at Georgia State as helpful, especially for their scholarship resources and their willingness to write letters of recommendation for graduate school applications. She was selected for the Title IV-E Program with DFCS after a professor recommended she apply.
The program, which is managed from Georgia State’s School of Social Work (SSW) in partnership with DFCS, supports public child welfare education and training around the state. Its goal is to build and retain a competent, stable workforce that enhances the delivery of public child welfare services to families and children in foster care and/or those going through adoption. Students obtain their Bachelor of Social Work and/or Master of Social Work degrees in the SSW and complete their field education component working in direct public child welfare practice at a designated DFCS office. All Title IV-E students are contractually obligated to work for DFCS one year for every academic year they receive Title IV-E funding.
Williams believes her experience at DFCS contributed to her professional growth as she can now speak in front of a large group or start conversations more easily.
“I’m not as shy anymore,” she said. “I’m doing things I thought I’d never do.”
Williams has been accepted to the MSW program at the University of Georgia, where she will take on the Advanced Standing option in June and complete her program in one year. She will work for DFCS after earning her MSW to uphold her commitment as a Title IV-E student. After that, she plans to convert to an agency that counsels clients, as her MSW studies will be on the clinical side of social work.
With her final semester behind her, Williams reflected on her most memorable experience at Georgia State, which was meeting namesake Ambassador Andrew Young during a class in social work.
“You can tell that he not only cares about the classes, but the university as a whole,” she said. “In fact, I’ve received so much support from my professors, and they’ve motivated me to keep going.”
Story by Ashley Thompson, M.A. in Communication candidate