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B. School Social Work Specialization Standards

B.1.  Core Knowledge Base and Foundation

Standard 17

Social Work Foundations

In addition to the generic standards required of all members of the Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) team, the preparation program provides candidates with a strong foundation in the knowledge base of social work.   There is a special emphasis on school social work, in order to support the full development of pupils, their schools, the resources of their families and the linkage of community service resources, working in partnerships toward the shared goal of pupils’ success.


Candidates for the PPS credential in school social work are provided with a strong foundation in the knowledge base of social work. During the second year of the program, there is a special emphasis on school social work through coursework and the field practicum in the schools. Matrix 17-1 illustrates the specific content and MSW courses which provide it.

Foundation knowledge base in social work

The Master of Social Work degree is a 60 unit program that is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. It is designed to educate advanced social work practitioners who can meet complex client needs within a diversity of public and private human service settings and who can provide services to multiple client systems using a variety of social work practice approaches. As part of the M.S.W. program, students may elect to specialize in school social work practice and child welfare and attendance. All students acquire a strong foundation knowledge base prior to specializing in school social work and child welfare and attendance.

The MSW and PPS program is organized around five curriculum sequences: policy, human behavior in the social environment, research, practice and field. All sequences have foundation courses, which provide the knowledge base for courses in the advanced concentration. In 2004, the faculty voted to expand the foundation curriculum from one to two semesters. Two years were devoted to the expansion and strengthening of the foundation and the reconfiguration of the advanced concentration. These curricular revisions were implemented in 2007-08.   The foundation curriculum is now delivered in the first two semesters of the program. It provides students with a generalist, problem-solving approach to social work practice. Content on ethics, diversity, social and economic justice and populations at risk is introduced in the foundation courses and expanded throughout the advanced concentration.

There are currently two core courses in the policy sequence. Both are designed to familiarize students with generalist foundation policy regarding: 1) history, mission and philosophy of the social work profession, 2) awareness of the contexts and patterns of policy development, implementation, evaluation and change, and 3) theoretical, conceptual and practical dimensions of social welfare policy analysis. S Wrk 200 (Schedule of Classes) is designed as the initial socialization course to the social work profession from a policy perspective and also meets the University’s graduate writing requirement. S Wrk 203 (COURSE SCHEDULE) focuses on analysis of social welfare policies and program operations. It addresses the linkage of social, economic, cultural, political, legislative, administrative and legal dimensions of social work practice. This course also reviews comparison of various policy analysis frameworks and introduces students to the legislative process.

There are two foundation courses in the human behavior in the social environment sequence: S Wrk 212 and 213. S Wrk 212 (COURSE SCHEDULE) introduces core theories that inform multi systems practice. Knowledge, values, and skills that support the understanding of the behaviors of people as individuals and as members of collectives in families, groups, organizations and communities are presented. This content includes understanding individual and small group behavior from a developmental, life course, and small system perspective as well as theories of small groups, organizational, and community behavior from a social systems perspective. S Wrk 213 embodies the Department of Social Work Education’s commitment to addressing diversity and social justice by focusing on oppression within an empowerment perspective. This course prepares students to understand and appreciate cultural and social diversity as part of the value base of social work (see the Course Calendar).

‘It also examines the consequences of institutionalized oppression on the populations that social workers serve, provides knowledge on practice with ethnic cultures, people of color, and women, as well as populations affected by social, economic and legal bias or oppression such as persons who are LGBTQQ, people with disabilities, and elders.

S Wrk 213 is relevant to the Department of Social Work Education’s commitment to social justice and diversity awareness in that it addresses the need for both theoretical and analytical content about groups that are disenfranchised. The intent of the course is to enable students to practice empowerment focused interventions. The knowledge base in this course has direct application to the other foundation courses, as well as to the advanced concentration courses.

There are two foundation research courses, S Wrk 260 and S Wrk 261. The first course introduces students to issues and methods in quantitative approaches to research and practice evaluation (see COURSE SCHEDULE).

It addresses the nature of quantitative inquiry, the scientific method, ethics, values and issues of diversity in social work research and evaluation, research designs, sampling strategies, data analysis and presentation. The second research course is addresses the same content areas with a focus on qualitative method and approaches to research (see COURSE SCHEDULE).

This content provides a base for students to evaluate the relevance of the empirical base of knowledge and theory development in all sequence courses, and provides a base for the development of their own research.

There are two foundation courses in the practice sequence. S Wrk 220 introduces students to a problem- solving, person-in-environment interaction approach to practice across all systems levels (see COURSE SCHEDULE).

It is a generalist perspective, strength-based approach to practice. The focus is the development of social work practice skills with an emphasis on interventions with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. It is a four unit course that includes a skills lab. It bridges the five core content sequences: social welfare policy, research, human behavior and the social environment, and field practicum. As the first practice foundation course, this seminar introduces students to the basic problem- solving skills and intervention philosophy of the social work profession. S Wrk 221 is the second foundation practice course.

It is also a four unit course with a skills lab (see COURSE SCHEDULE). It builds upon the practice knowledge and skills from S Wrk 220 in its analysis and application of the theories, principles and techniques of social work practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. Students are introduced to a multidimensional problem-solving framework. There is a focus on the person in environment with the dual purpose of both enhancing the well being of people and amelioration of the environmental conditions that adversely affect them.

The intent of this course is to prepare students to begin the journey to becoming creative, ethical problem- solvers who are culturally aware and are committed to social justice within an empowerment perspective.

Finally, the first year field practicum, Social Work 280 (fall) and Social Work 281 (spring), is designated as foundation. It provides students with agency-based experiences that assist students in understanding the generalist, problem solving approach and its specific application to practice with different client systems and across fields of practice. Each semester of the first year practicum is guided by a learning agreement that prescribes minimal practice assignments for all students in professional development, multi systems practice, and evaluation of practice. The practice assignments are aligned with the foundation practice courses, S Wrk 220 and S Wrk 221, and provide first-hand experience in: 1) assessment, intervention with different size client systems, including individuals and organizations, 2) short and long term interventions that focus on interpersonal individual change, as well as crisis intervention, 3) development of the ability for assuming increasingly autonomous assignments, and 4) skills for practice across various size client systems in settings such as child welfare, mental health and medical settings. This course supports the foundation for practice by heightening student socialization into the profession, introducing them to agency functioning, observation of practice interventions, and practice at developing process skills such as active listening and empathy. It also provides opportunities to integrate the problem solving knowledge and skills taught in the classroom.

Emphasis on school social work

The foundation knowledge base in social work is acquired in the first year of the M.S.W. program. Students may elect to specialize in school social work and child welfare and attendance during the second year of the program. The emphasis on school social work occurs in the second year and is provided through coursework and the second year field practicum in the schools.

In addition to the standard second year coursework for all MSW students, PPS candidates are required to complete 600 hours of supervised internship in the schools (S Wrk 282 and S Wrk 283) concurrently with two courses in school social work practice (S Wrk 274 and S Wrk 275). S Wrk 274, Advanced Social Work Practice in Schools I, presents specific content on the role and function of the school social worker. The educational setting as a context for social work practice is thoroughly reviewed. Important content areas such as current trends in education, history of school social work, professional survival and legal/policy parameters for public education are all presented. For more information, see the S Wrk 274 Schedule of Classes and Assignments.

Practice from an ecological perspective is emphasized with a strong focus on understanding the guest status and unique contribution of social workers in educational settings. S Wrk 275, Advanced Social Work Practice in Schools II, builds on this knowledge with more focus on target groups of pupils and advanced intervention strategies. For more information see the S Wrk 275 Schedule of Classes and Assignments.

Both courses include knowledge and skills for linking clients with resources and developing partnerships with community organizations to effectively serve the needs of pupils and families.

The second year, advanced practicum in the schools, S Wrk 282/283, provides PPS candidates with the opportunity to apply specialized knowledge of school social work practice. All candidates complete 600 hours of supervised field internship in accordance with CCTC guidelines.   An advanced learning agreement is utilized to guide the practicum experience and prescribes advanced level assignments in professional development, multi systems practice, and evaluation of practice. The advanced practice assignments are aligned with the concurrent practice courses each semester. This curricular design is intended to maximize the integration of classroom learning with supervised internship experience. In the fall, S Wrk 282 students focus on practice with individuals (S Wrk 224), groups (S Wrk 225) and organizations (S Wrk 246). In the spring, S Wrk 283 students focus on practice with families (S Wrk 227) and communities (S Wrk 247).

In addition to these standardized requirements for all MSW students, the PPS candidates also develop and utilize a PPS Learning Agreement Addendum.

The addendum outlines the requirements and competencies ofthe PPS program and lists the assignments that will be completed to demonstrate accomplishment of each required learning area. Candidates gain first-hand experience ofthe role and function ofthe school social worker. They are required to fulfill a multiplicity of roles and functions in order to learn to be effective school social workers. Thus, the emphasis on school social work occurs for PPS candidates through the advanced practice courses as well as the internship and the two required school social work courses.


 MATRIX 17-1








School Social Work


The program provides candidates with a strong foundation in the knowledge base of social work

200, 203

212, 213

220, 221 224, 225 227, 246 247

280, 281 282, 283

260, 261 292 298/299

274 275

274 275

Factors to consider:








Foundation knowledge base in social work

200, 203

212, 213

220, 221

280, 281

260, 261



Emphasis in school social work




282, 283


274 275

274 275

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