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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- The state is providing a $5 million grant to Northern Arizona University to help provide new caseworkers to Child Protective Services.

The university will use the money for program costs and tuition reimbursements for social-work students who become CPS caseworkers, the Arizona Daily Sun reported.

The Department of Economic Security, CPS' parent state agency, will get up to 100 new CPS workers out of its partnership with Northern Arizona University's social work program over the next five years.

Graduates would have to remain CPS caseworkers for a specific period of time to qualify for the reimbursement for tuition for up to two years.

Natalie Cawood, social work program coordinator for the university's College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, said there's a need for highly trained workers in the child welfare system.

``We are really pleased to be able to partner with DES to support students, to improve the workforce and, in the end, to be able to impact families in a really positive way,'' Cawood said.

The partnership between Northern Arizona University and the state will create a new CPS degree track for some social-work students.

Social-work students accepted into the CPS degree track will be able to complete their required 480-hour internships through a new field education unit established under the partnership.

``They will have an opportunity to get a job when they graduate,'' Cawood said. ``It will also give them time to get to know the system.''

Associated Press,

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