Aspiring social workers have new option for education
Students considering pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work in the UH system are now able to attend UH-Downtown.
‘We started laying the groundwork around 2006,’ Director of the Bachelor of Social Work Program Jo Bailey said. ‘We applied for candidacy [for accreditation] to the CSWE (Council of Social Work Education) last year and got it this year.”
Students at UH-D may officially declare social work as their major this year.
‘Students have to apply to the BSW program,’ Bailey said. ‘So far we have admitted eight students; we have a good, core group of students. We are excited about their academic achievements so far and their interest and dedication to social work.’
‘ The Bachelor of Social Work Program will be using these initial groups of students to secure a speedy, full accreditation.
‘When a program is accredited, it is demonstrated to meet these educational standards and to meet the standards of the profession,’ Bailey said.’
‘There is a confidence and legitimacy for students that when they exit the program, employers and future graduate programs can recognize that they have been through a program that has met these standards. Typically [the process] takes about three or four years; we met the first hurdle this summer by getting candidacy for accreditation, meaning that we are in the initial stages.’
Successful graduation is an integral part of applying for accreditation, and the date for UH-D’s application for full accreditation has been set accordingly for 2013.
As well as graduation, UH-D’s Bachelor of Social Work Program must meet a standard of educational and professional excellence.
UH-D social work professor Dawn McCarty said the program is rigorous.
‘We will be working with agencies in the community,’ McCarty said. ‘We’ll be doing service learning projects, in addition to field practicum, which is 400 hours a student has to spend in a field placement, in an actual agency, under supervision practicing social work before they graduate.
‘Much of our coursework is designed to get our students in and working through agencies through service learning or through other kinds of engagement with actual work going on in the community. We’re going to make those connections very early on in the curriculum.’
Students will be prepared for the agency setting in classrooms.’
‘I’ll be teaching the practice sequence, so I’m looking forward to teaching actual practiced skills and helping students integrate their coursework, their academic learning, with actual practice skill development,’ McCarty said.
Social work graduate student Kimberly Buckert believes this new program will help to fill a vacancy in Houston social work programs.
‘Right now there are only two other programs in Houston, at TSU and UH-Clear Lake,’ Buckert said. ‘Coming into my undergrad, I didn’t even realize that a bachelor’s in social work was an option.
‘It’s a great thing to have as an introduction into social work and to be able to fill those other positions around Houston. If they aren’t planning on getting their master’s, there is still a lot that is available and a lot that is needed (in Houston).’
UH-D’s Bachelor of Social Work program is designed for students also seeking a master’s program.
‘I think a bachelor’s of social work would be good for getting more experience before going into the field and before going into a master’s program,’ Buckert said.
McCarty is excited about the service the students will provide to the city.
‘ ‘The fact that we will be taking these students and developing them and teaching them and preparing them to serve the Houston community is really a great honor,’ McCarty said. ‘
‘Our students will provide services. They will develop policy. They will create better life for people in this community, and create a community in doing so. Being a part of that is very exciting.’