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DCFS Academic Internship, University Partnership and Shadow Program

DCFS Resuming Academic Internships with COVID-19 Protocols in Place

Whether university courses are being delivered via remote learning, a return to campus or a hybrid model, students need to complete field placements to meet their academic requirements. The suspension of DCFS Academic Internships has been lifted based on a plan that takes into consideration COVID-19 protocols.

The nature of child welfare field placements requires direct contact with clients or stakeholders to practice skills and learn the day-to-day workings of the field. Therefore, face to face contact will continue to be a part of DCFS internships while abiding by COVID-19 protocols. Additionally, upon returning to the workplace, DCFS field supervisors must accommodate the rule of only 50% staff occupancy in statewide offices. This will impact their ability to supervise interns and may thus impact the number of interns that can be accepted.

Moving forward, university field directors and DCFS field supervisors must design and approve internship plans with COVID-19 protocols taken into consideration. Current DCFS COVID-19 protocols can be viewed at: Coronavirus

DCFS Academic Internship field placements could be approved based on the following guidelines:

  • The Internship Plan must include activities designed to accommodate both remote and/or on-site assignments as needed and be approved by the university.
  • Interns must sign and submit the DCFS Intern Release and Waiver of Liability Agreement form.
  • All in-person contacts will follow accepted DCFS COVID guidelines and restrictions for engaging in public or in the office.
  • Interns will follow the safety guidelines DCFS has set forth and will work with field supervisors to determine if any additional protocols for safety measures are needed within their specialty.
  • Interns will be expected to participate in face-to-face contacts in the field while abiding by PPE guidelines for the protection of all parties.
  • No assurances can be given that a certain percentage of internship time will involve in-person client contact. Intern candidates can inquire with the prospective DCFS field supervisor during their interview about the likelihood of direct client contact.
  • Interns could be included in any virtual client contacts or meetings with stakeholders through use of technology (WebEx, Facetime, Zoom, etc.) as much as possible.
  • Access to computer/laptop/tablet with strong internet bandwidth will be required in order to accommodate virtual connections.
  • Supervisors provide ongoing regular supervision either in person or via technology.
  • Interns could be included in virtual and/or in-person staff meetings.
  • Supervisors assign remote tasks as needed that provide intern with a professional remote learning experience that goes beyond simple clerical work.
  • University field directors will be expected to check in with their interns on a regular basis to ensure internship needs continue to be met considering COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Interns who are exposed to COVID-19 or contract the virus will abide by quarantine requirements and no longer access DCFS offices, personnel or clients until they are medically cleared to return.

DISCLAIMER: The Academic Internship approval process is subject to change as COVID-19 guidelines or restrictions apply. Internships may need to be discontinued at any time due to changes in COVID-19 protocols, altered availability of internship supervisors due to COVID quarantines or an intern’s confidence level not allowing them to enter client homes, courtrooms, DCFS offices or public places where services are delivered.

Any questions can be directed to Audrey Reischauer, UIUC associate director of academic partnerships, at

DCFS Academic Internship Program

The Academic Internship Program provides degree-seeking college students with experiences and learning opportunities within the child welfare system. The internship program is open to any college student who is pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Under the supervision of experienced DCFS staff, interns will participate in activities and duties which will provide a great learning experience. The Academic Internship Program offers internships statewide. Each office specializes in a series of duties and specialties, thus interns, if location allows it, will be able to choose what office they work for depending on the specialty of the office. To apply for the Academic Internship Program, students should fill out the online application here.  If the application is approved, the student will be sent documents that make up the background check process. The forms must be completed and returned along with two professional letters of recommendation.

For more information, including application deadlines, click here. Students may also email questions to

DCFS University Partnership Program

The University Partnerships Program is a unique collaboration between Illinois DCFS and nine Illinois universities to make the department’s placement curriculum available to students who are pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree and want to work in child welfare after graduation. For more information, click here. For a list of courses offered at each university, click  here.

DCFS Shadowing Program

The Illinois DCFS Shadowing Program is a unique two-day experience that pairs eligible college students who would like to learn more about the department with DCFS staff working in the student’s area of interest. Shadowing opportunities are available in DCFS offices statewide during the fall, spring and summer semesters. Space is limited, so it is highly recommended that you apply as soon as possible. For more information, click here.

Need help or want to know more?

Contact Audrey D. Reischauer, MSW, associate director of academic partnerships, at or 217-782-3182.    

Post-secondary education
 (community college, vocational and four-year universities)

For FAFSA assistance, Youth in College placement, DCFS ScholarshipTuition and Fee Waiver and Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program information, please contact:

Laura Gutierrez

Nashun Avery

Kim Peck (preferred method of contact)