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Reforming the State’s Social Services

SSW’s Mary Collins recently testified before the House of Representatives Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect.

Mary Collins, a School of Social Work associate professor and director of the interdisciplinary Ph.D. program, recently testified before the Massachusetts House of Representatives Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect about suggested reform strategies for the Massachusetts Department of Social Services (DSS). 

Collins, who is nearing the end of a three-year federally funded study focusing on the evaluation of child welfare training across the country, used her findings to advise DSS on improvements to its continuing training program for employees.

In her testimony, Collins highlighted the importance of training DSS employees with innovative, well-developed, coordinated, and extensive training sessions that go beyond the classroom. “DSS must be willing to allow evaluation of training in order to assess, and thereby improve, training approaches,” she told the committee. 

The committee was receptive to the recommendations, Collins says. “They asked some important, relevant questions.”

If the committee decides to develop the recommendations for legislation, the draft will be prepared by March 28. The members seemed to be “interested in taking the next step,” she says. “I was glad to be engaged in the policy process.”

Kathleen Dowling can be reached at dowlingk@bu.edu.