All Practice Digest

Integrating Social Justice in Field Education

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Overview

Historically, social work practice has occurred within the confines of what can be described as a bidirectional flow of social justice. Along with great strides forward, setbacks occur. Nevertheless, the unrelenting call for social workers to fight for social justice and to educate others for this fight remains the same. A deeply rooted commitment within the Grand Challenges of Social Work stems directly from the profession’s fundamental principle of promoting social justice and equal opportunity for all (Uehara et al., 2013). Schools of social work strive to not only educate students to understand the ways in which privilege, oppression, marginalization, and powerlessness contribute to systematic inequalities, but also to fulfill the profession’s mission by equipping students with the knowledge and skills needed to promote social justice (Finn, 2016; Reisch & Garvin, 2016). Whereas classroom instruction can successfully teach the concepts of social justice, translating this theoretical knowledge to practice in real-world settings is an essential component of social work field education (Battle & Hill, 2016). Given the experiential, hands-on nature of the field practicum, field education programs are uniquely positioned to shape students’ self-identities as social work professionals and enhance students’ understanding of social justice work in action. During the field practicum, students gain firsthand experience in applying a social justice lens to their practice of social work through direct interactions with field instructors, client systems, field advisors, and other social work students.
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Assessing for Racial Equity Capacity in Field Placements

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Introduction

In the last few years, there is increasing awareness that race and racial disparity continue to persist in significant ways in many, if not all, areas of society. This awareness was heightened, in large part, due to police shootings of unarmed African-Americans as well as current political rhetoric. Social workers can be leaders in bridging the racial equity gap in our field and in the larger society. The profession has a history of addressing macro-level issues and understands how systems impact individuals. This manuscript explores one project that has been developed and implemented over the past two academic years in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area and that can be used as a model for other programs interested in addressing issues of racial inequity.
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Laying the Foundation for a Competency Based Remediation Process: Lessons Learned

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Introduction

In 2008, the Council on Social Work Education’s (CSWE) Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) identified field education as the signature pedagogy of social work education. As social work educators, we are charged with providing students the opportunity to learn and to be successful in the field, while also acting as gatekeepers of the social work profession. Currer (2009) suggests that it is critical to find a balance between “allegiance to individual learners” and protecting the profession of social work and its future clients. However, current literature provides little guidance as how to best assist students who are not successfully demonstrating the competencies in their field placements. This paper will discuss how the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) School of Social Work Field Education Office developed a remediation process for addressing (and preventing) placement issues and assists students in connecting the competencies with their performance in field.
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Spiraling Organizational Change: A Campus Conversion to Online Programming

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Introduction

Educational institutions face many social, political, and environmental influences that affect their operations. For example, higher education programs have remained competitive by launching online educational opportunities. As a result, institutions are now able to reach a maximum audience, increasing both accessibility for students and profitability for education providers. Social work has embraced online education in part to respond to the increasing demand for master’s level social workers (Council on Social Work Education [CSWE], 2017) and as a way to increase the number of social work professionals in previously underserved rural and remote communities (Cummings, Chaffin & Cockerham, 2015; Reinsmith-Jones, Kibbe, Crayton & Campbell, 2015). As with most businesses, schools of social work must be aware of the external environment and act nimbly if they wish to maximize quality and minimize barriers for students. As social work education relies heavily on the goodwill of community-based agencies to host students for their 900-hour internship requirement (CSWE, 2015), social work administrators need to pay attention to the impact of their own internal organizational changes on external agency partners. Additionally, change in the structure of external agency partners necessitates change in the social work program (Rothwell, Sullivan, Kim, Park, & Donahue, 2015).
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