Certification Program

The Certification Program is for social work majors who intend to work with the children and families served by the Department of Children's Services  after graduation. DCS administers this program to better meet the challenges of child welfare by professionalizing its workforce with frontline staff trained in social work.

Eligibility Requirements

To apply for admission to the Certification Program, students must: 

  • Be a U.S citizen or, if a qualified alien, provide documentation of their eligibility for work in the U.S. for the duration of their study and their possible employment with DCS.
  • Possess a valid driver's license, automobile insurance, and reliable transportation.
  • Undergo a background check and fingerprinting.
  • Be admitted into an accredited Social Work Program at a participating university.  

Program Guidelines

To remain in good standing, program participants must: 

  • Remain in good standing at their university.
  • Maintain an overall GPA of 2.6 in social work courses.
  • Successfully complete and receive a minimum grade of 'B-' for the Child Welfare I & II courses offered by their university.
  • Successfully complete the university field placement requirement, which must include a field placement of a minimum of 370 hours in a Tennessee DCS Regional Office.
  • Submit all requested information and documentation to DCS (e.g. transcripts, forms, updates).

Application Process and Forms

Please note the following information and observe the following process carefully when applying to the Certification Program. Applicants will work with their university's field placement coordinator to arrange an internship at a DCS regional office. DCS regional leadership will review the internship requests and make the final decision about placements. Once locations are identified for the internships, applicants will complete and submit the application materials to the DCS regional office.

Step 1: Complete the Application for the DCS Child Welfare Certification Program.

Step 2: Complete the following forms needed to perform a criminal background check.

• CS-0319-Application for Service as a Volunteer
• Fingerprint Application

Please complete all required documents and submit them to the regional DCS Volunteer Coordinator or the student's university Field Ccoordinator. Successful completion of all application materials are required to be considered for entry into the Certification Program.

Certification Program students will complete the DCS Internship and be assessed throughout the experience for their readiness to begin as a Case Manager 1 with the department. Students' internships must be 370 hours to be eligible to receive the Tennessee Department of Children's Services Child Welfare Case Management Certification. Certification Program students may apply with the department 120 days prior to graduation.

Application Deadlines

  • April 30- Summer acceptance
  • June 15- Fall acceptance
  • November 15- Spring acceptance

Participating Universities

  • Austin Peay State University
  •  Freed-Hardeman University
  •  Middle Tennessee State University
  •  Tennessee State University
  •  Union University
  •  University of Memphis
  •  University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
  •  University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  •  University of Tennessee, Martin

Graduates Applying for DCS Employment

Please consult the applying for DCS positions presentation for a guided tour through the application process. Students should contact the DCS tuition assistance programs as soon as possible with questions or concerns.

Map of DCS Regional Offices


Department of Children’s Services
Tuition Assistance Program
UBS Tower
315 Deaderick Street, 7th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243
email: IV-E_Tuition.EI-DCS@tn.gov