Field Education Handbook
The field practicum is the signature pedagogy of social work education. The practicum course aligns with the values and principles that emerge from the themes of the School of Social Welfare, including:
Relationship Building: We engage in relationship building that fosters creativity, collaboration, and mutual learning. Relationship building is essential across practice, scholarship, education and service. We take a strengths approach as we serve our local, state, national, and global communities.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: We embrace the inherent worth of all people. By taking the position of cultural humility and applying the lens of intersectionality, we seek to develop and promote modes of anti-oppressive social work and dismantle structures of exclusion.
Practice with Integrity: We demonstrate our integrity and trustworthiness as scholars, educators, practitioners, and community members by promoting social work values, ethical practice, and the process of critical reflection.
Multisystem Competency: We recognize that social, economic, and environmental injustices are the root causes of inequities and multiple strategies are necessary to address these. Our work integrates micro/macro social work and builds collaboration across systems and disciplines to create multi-level change.
Critical Perspective: We engage in deliberate and continuing examination of social conditions and solutions. We use critical inquiry to analyze and challenge existing structures and systems in order to advance the field and promote social, economic, and environmental justice.
Empirically Informed Social Work: We rigorously advance empirical research that impacts the social work knowledge base. By translating and applying evidence, we continually transform practice and policy across multiple systems.
The field practicum at both the BSW and Generalist level of the program engages the student in supervised social work practice to develop a generalist foundation and provides students with opportunities to apply classroom learning in the field setting. This includes classes in Policy, Research, Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Direct Practice and Community and Organization Practice. During the Advanced year of the MSW program, the curriculum focuses on helping students develop specialized skills in either the Clinical Social Work Practice or Macro Practice Specializations, and provides students with opportunities to apply classroom learning in the field.
Clinical and Macro levels of students in field practicum will address these ten core competencies:
- Identify as a professional social worker.
- Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice.
- Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments.
- Engage diversity and difference in practice.
- Advance human rights and social and economic justice.
- Engage in research-informed practice and practice informed research.
- Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment.
- Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services.
- Respond to contexts that shape practice.
- Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
BSW and Generalist levels of students in field practicum will address these nine core competencies:
- Competency 1 - Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior
- Competency 2 - Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice
- Competency 3 - Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice
- Competency 4 - Engage In Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice
- Competency 5 - Engage in Policy Practice
- Competency 6 - Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations and Communities
- Competency 7 - Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
- Competency 8 - Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
- Competency 9 - Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
A subset of practice behaviors associated with each competency specific to the level (BSW, Generalist, Clinical, and Macro) can be found in the Learning Contract for each level.
Since every student comes to the practicum with unique professional and life experiences and different skills, and every practicum site provides different learning opportunities, the learning objectives are operationalized through the development of each student’s Learning Contract.
The Field Education Office anticipates that this handbook will serve as useful resource for students, field instructors, field liaisons, and faculty to clarify the learning objectives, policies, and procedures guiding field education. However, the handbook’s utility is primarily determined by those who interpret and use it. We welcome your comments and suggestions to improve it as a tool for student learning.
The field education partnership includes multiple participants – the student, the Field Instructor, in some settings a Preceptor, the Field Agency, the Field Liaison, the Field Education Office, and the School of Social Welfare. Open, regular communication among these participants can support each participant in fulfilling their role in the educational process.
Prior to practicum placement:
Practicum planning for the upcoming academic year begins in January. The planning process requires professionalism, which we expect of all of our students who are requesting a field practicum placement. To be eligible to request a practicum placement for the upcoming academic year, students must:
- Have accepted admission to the School of Social Welfare.
- Have completed any required prerequisite courses, in accordance with their program plan.
- Be in good academic standing and eligible for advancement.
- Enroll in a concurrent practice class (unless a Concurrent Practicum Exception is approved).
- Submit all Field application materials by the due dates as instructed by Field Education Office
If any of these criteria are not met, the student may not be eligible to complete the practicum planning process, interview with a practicum agency, complete any practicum site on-boarding activities, or enter field practicum during the upcoming academic year. Students will be notified if they were expected to apply for field and are out of compliance with the application process. In that case, the Field Education Director may request a Student Review Committee meeting with the BSW or MSW Program Director to determine the student’s future in the program.
- Background checks: The Field Education Office completes background checks at a practicum site’s request. In cases were a practicum site request a background check be completed, the Field Education Office requires that students complete a background check prior to beginning practicum, and the results may be provided to the practicum agency.
- Professional Liability Insurance: The School of Social Welfare obtains a Professional Liability Insurance policy on practicum students the summer prior to practicum beginning. Students will be required to complete the Professional Liability Insurance application questions (which are incorporated into the Field Application materials in Sonia) prior to the Field application due date or they will not be eligible to begin practicum in the fall. If there are issues with the student’s eligibility for insurance due to the Professional Liability Insurance 4 application questions, the student may not be able to be insured by the School and the student and practicum site will be notified.
During practicum placement:
While the School and the practicum site can provide an educational environment and learning opportunities, the student has the overall responsibility for his or her own learning in the classroom and the field agency. The student’s openness to learning and active engagement with learning activities are essential qualities for a successful practicum experience.
Specific responsibilities of the student in the field practicum include:
- Provide the Field Education Office with practicum planning information in a timely manner. This means that materials are completed on the date specified or specific arrangements have been made when the information will be provided. Falsification or misrepresentation, or failure to supply the required information on practicum planning materials will result in terminating the practicum placement process and could impact continuation in the program.
- Actively collaborate with the Field Education Office in the field placement process, and provide prompt feedback to the Field Education Office about the outcome of placement interviews.
- Complete all practicum site requirements prior to the start of practicum. This may include (but not limited to): background checks, medical testing, vaccinations, and liability insurance. Regardless of practicum site requirements, students are strongly encouraged to obtain medical insurance for the duration of practicum.
- Become familiar with both the rights and responsibilities of the educational process. If a student is asked to engage in an activity they doubt will enhance professional learning, then the student should openly discuss the activity with the Field Instructor. The Field Liaison may be consulted by the student and the Field Instructor for assistance in determining the appropriateness of a learning activity. On the other hand, students are encouraged to be open to a wide range of learning activities and to question their own assumptions about what might be gained from the experience.
- Be professional in interactions with practicum site staff, clients, and student colleagues; conducting themselves within the guidelines provided by the agency, the School of Social Welfare, and the NASW Code of Ethics.
- Develop a learning contract that meets the guidelines defined by the School of Social Welfare.
- Be familiar with and to adhere to the due dates specified in the field education calendar. This includes completing and submitting required writing assignments to the Field Liaison.
- Complete written work expected by the practicum site and the School in a timely manner. The Field Liaison may require additional work on the Learning Contract and writing samples if they are unsatisfactory.
- A BSW or MSW student in practicum who conducts, or assists an practicum site in conducting, human subjects research activities must contact the Field Education Director who will consult with the Associate Deans prior to the student beginning any research activities.
- If a student does not think their learning needs are being met, then it is the student’s responsibility to discuss this with their Field Instructor. If the student does not think that the Field Instructor is responding to the concerns, then it is the student’s responsibility to discuss this with the Field Liaison. If the student does not think that the Field Liaison is responding to their concerns, then it is the responsibility of the student to discuss this with the Associate Director or Director of Field Education. The student should anticipate continuing discussion with the Field Instructor in an effort to resolve concerns about learning needs within the practicum.
- As required by a Kansas law that went into effect on July 1, 2017, concealed carry of handguns shall be permitted on University campuses with some limited exceptions. Unless your practicum is physically located on a KU campus that is covered by the PFPA, this provision of the law does not apply to your practicum site. Students who choose to carry a concealed handgun are responsible for knowing and following all related laws, restrictions, and policies related to their assigned practicum site.
The Field Instructor
The Field Instructor is the practicum site’s representative to the School, just as the Field Liaison is the School’s representative to the practicum site and the student. The practicum site delegates to the Field Instructor the responsibility of serving as the student’s primary supervisor.
Qualifications to be a Field Instructor include an MSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program (BSW or MSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program for BSW students), practice competence in one or more professional areas, an expressed interest in being a Field Instructor, a willingness to accept the Field Instructor’s role and responsibilities within the School’s field education program, and at least two years of post-degree social work experience. The Field Instructor has the following responsibilities:
- Prepare for and conduct regularly scheduled face to face weekly social work instruction meetings with the student. Meetings are 1 hour weekly for a minimum of each week the student is in practicum. Virtual meetings are fine.
- Provide for required time in accordance with the Minimum Clock Hours policy.
- Collaborate with the student in identifying safety concerns that need to be considered in the practicum site; and practice and develop a safety plan with the student, in accordance with the Safety policy as listed in the Field Education Handbook.
- Abide by the NASW Code of Ethics in your relationships with clients, colleagues and students and include discussions about the Code of Ethics in the weekly supervision meetings with the student.
- Actively collaborate with the student and Field Liaison in the development, implementation and ongoing use of the Learning Contract.
- Coordinate any student learning experiences overseen by other staff members.
- Provide the student with ongoing feedback on the student's performance.
- Support the student in gaining access to additional learning opportunities and resources in the practicum site and professional community that may be of interest to the student.
- Maintain an ongoing evaluation of the student's progress (verbal and written), and complete evaluations of the student as required by the School of Social Welfare.
- Collaborate with the Field Liaison in the planning, review and evaluation of the student's performance; recommend a mid-year and final grade to the Field Liaison.
- Inform the Field Liaison promptly of any problem in the field placement and follow the protocol for addressing student performance concerns.
- Participate in school-sponsored field education meetings, and when new to field instruction in the KU School of Social Welfare, complete mandatory Field Instructor orientation, either in-person or online.
- Protect the confidentiality of student records as dictated by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and not release or disclose records regarding the student (other than to University) without prior written consent of the student or where required by law.
- Provide field instruction for four or fewer KU School of Social Welfare students. Please note, the Field Education Office will not assign more than four practicum students to any one Field Instructor has been contracted specifically to provide field instruction to a group of students greater than four.
Off-Site Field Instructors
In some instances, a field instructor may be located off-site, while the student works on-site with a Preceptor/Task Supervisor, who must be assigned by the practicum site when using an off-site Field Instructor. The off-site Field Instructor has the following additional responsibilities:
- Within the first two weeks of practicum, the off-site Field Instructor should initiate contact with the student and Preceptor to facilitate a discussion regarding:
- Orientation of the student
- Roles of each person
- Confidentiality expectations
- Channels of communication throughout the practicum.
- The off-site Field Instructor should have contact at least twice a month with the Preceptor, as well as a minimum of weekly contact with the student during the regularly scheduled supervision meeting.
- The off-site Field Instructor and the Preceptor should both be present for the scheduled Liaison site visits, if possible.
- The off-site Field Instructor should consult with the Preceptor/Task Supervisor on the student’s evaluation.
The Field Agency
The Field Practicum Practicum site is a social service practicum site or human services setting that is able to offer the educational opportunities needed to support the School’s curriculum and is able to provide a qualified field instructor to guide the student’s learning. Practicum site participation in field education is voluntary. Practicum sitesPracticum sites enter into a partnership with the School to provide field education because of their interest in professional social work education and their conviction that being part of the educational process enhances both the practicum site and the profession. The practicum site’s basic responsibility is to provide conditions in the practicum site that support the achievement of professional social work competencies and practice behaviors. The School selects practicum sites based on their ability to provide these conditions. The practicum site has the following responsibilities:
- Demonstrate a commitment to social work practice and social work education.
- Follow the University of Kansas non-discrimination policy, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities.
- Provide a qualified Field instructor.
- Provide the Field Instructor with sufficient time and resources to carry out field instruction responsibilities with the student and with the School of Social Welfare.
- Provide the resources and the range of learning experiences necessary for the achievement of field education competencies.
- Adopt an educational orientation toward the student, viewing the student as a learner and developing professional rather than as an apprentice or a staff member.
- Provide the student with resources necessary to carry out learning assignments such as adequate workspace, clerical support, access to relevant practicum site records and documents. Travel reimbursements may be provided to students for authorized activities according to practicum site policy.
- Provide students with appropriate training regarding practicum site policies and procedures guiding professional practice and protecting client confidentiality. This includes the practicum site’s adherence to all pertinent state and federal laws and regulations guiding protecting client information.
- Provide vital and timely information to the School, such as a written description of the practicum site’s services and learning opportunities for students, confirmation of field placements, and updates on staff and program changes affecting field education.
- For practicum sites having several students in placement, delegate a staff member to serve as the field education coordinator within the practicum site and as the contact person to the School.
- Protect the confidentiality of student records as dictated by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and shall not release or disclose records regarding the student (other than to University) without prior written consent of the student or where required by law.
The Field Liaison
The Field Liaison is the School’s representative to the practicum site and the student. The liaison is either a full time faculty member in the School of Social Welfare, or a qualified social worker who has been hired to fill this role. Every practicum placement has a liaison assigned by the school. The liaison’s basic responsibility is to monitor the educational progress of the student and assist the Field Instructor and student in fulfilling the academic requirements for field practicum. The Field Liaison has the following responsibilities:
- Initiate contact with the Field Instructor and student within the first two weeks of practicum, in order to clearly communicate availability and role as an educational resource.
- Consult with the Field Instructor and student in developing and implementing the Learning Contract.
- Provide written feedback to the student on the Learning Contract and other written materials completed by the student.
- Visit the field agency at least twice during the practicum year – minimum of one time each semester. The minimum visitation is one Fall semester face-to-face onsite or virtual visit and one Spring semester face-to-face onsite visit or virtual visit.
- Telephone conferences may be used in cases of documented technology challenges.
- Site visits should take place after the first three weeks of practicum are complete, and before the last two weeks of practicum. Exceptions can be made in cases when scheduling is difficult due to illness, cancellations, etc. The Liaison should keep their supervisor (Director or Associate Director of Field Education) informed if a formal site visit falls outside of the schedule above.
- The Liaison should meet with each student individually, apart from the Field Instructor, during each site visit or prior to the visit by phone or virtual meeting.
- The Liaison should complete a Site Visit Form in Sonia for each student.
- Respond to requests from Field Instructors and students for information and assistance within 48 hours.
- Monitor progress by initiating contact with student and Field Instructor at least once each month.
- Set alternate due dates for student assignments when a student’s practicum changes.
- Recommend student end-of-semester grades to the Field Director, in collaboration with the Field Instructor, based on an informed judgment of the student’s performance as indicated in mid-year and the final practicum evaluation.
- Inform supervisor (Associate Director of Field Education) of situations jeopardizing the student’s progress in practicum (e.g., unsatisfactory performance, agency-student mismatch). Submit an Practicum site Meeting Form, including the written plan that details the agreed upon plan of action to remedy the problem situations.
- Assist students and/or Field Instructors in the resolution of field related problems.
- Participate in School sponsored field education programs for liaisons.
The Preceptor/Task Supervisor
In some field practicum-a staff member, who serves as an important auxiliary education resource for the student, may be designated as a Preceptor. In every placement utilizing an offsite Field Instructor, a Preceptor must be assigned, but it is optional when a student has an onsite Field Instructor. In collaboration with the Field Instructor, the Preceptor works with the student on specific educational tasks in the Preceptor’s area of expertise. It is expected that many staff will participate in the student’s education, but the relationship with the Preceptor is ongoing and is a formal arrangement between the Field Instructor, the Preceptor, and the student. The Field Instructor maintains responsibility for the student’s educational program and integrating the work the Student is doing with the Preceptor into the student’s overall learning.
The Preceptor may be any staff member who is able to be an educational resource for the student, including an experienced social worker, a new social work graduate, or other professional helpers. In the case of advanced year clinical students, to ensure their daily clinical practice is adequately supervised, students should be assigned a preceptor with advanced behavioral health credentials and/or expertise. Students may expect the Preceptor to:
- Model a way of working with clients and staff by inviting the student to observe, question, discuss and participate in the work the Preceptor is doing;
- Contribute ideas, facts and other relevant data about their own practice and the workings of the agency;
- Provide feedback to the student on the student’s performance;
- Provide feedback to the Field Instructor on the student’s performance, as specified in the formal agreement between the student, Preceptor, and Field Instructor;
- Consult with the student and Field Instructor in writing the learning contract and specifying the learning opportunities that may be available to the student.
The Field Education Office
The Field Education Office’s basic responsibility is the organization, implementation and evaluation of the field education program. The Director of Field Education is charged with this responsibility. In addition to the Director of Field Education the office includes the (2) Associate Directors of Field Education, the Western Kansas MSW Program Coordinator, the Office Manager, and the Field Liaisons. The Field Education Office has the following responsibilities:
- Establish criteria and recruit a network of qualified practicum sites and Field Instructors to participate in the field education program.
- Match students with practicum sites participating in field education.
- Assign a Field Liaison to each agency, whose purpose is to serve as the link between the School/Field Education Office, the Agency, and the student.
- Establish and conduct educational programs for field practicum participants.
- Provide orientations for students about the field practicum requirements.
- Provide orientations for field instructors and liaisons.
- Provide educational events (Field Forums) for field instructors, field liaisons, and academic faculty.
- Prepare a written Handbook of field practicum policies, programs and procedures for all field education participants.
- Establish ongoing and periodic opportunities for field practicum participants to evaluate the field education program.
- Issue documentation of continuing education credits for attendance at School sponsored field education programs and for providing field instruction.
Responsibility for Placement of Students
Because Field Practicum is an essential requirement of the BSW and MSW degree programs, the Field Education Office bears responsibility for the placement of students with approved field practicum sites and qualified field instructors. Placements are based upon the abilities of practicum sites to provide learning opportunities consistent with the required professional competencies defining the BSW, MSW Generalist, Clinical, and Macro Practice requirements. Student interests in fields of practice, client populations, and social problems will be used in the placement process.
Reasonable efforts will be made to address student needs based on transportation resources, proximity to agency, and family care requirements. Students’ preferences for a specific practicum site will receive consideration in the planning process whenever possible. The only exception to this when the requested placement is more than 60 miles from the student’s home; in that case, the Field Education Office will not place a student at that location unless there are no other viable options for placement closer to the student’s home community. The Field Education Office cannot guarantee that students will be placed in a preferred practicum setting.
Students may request to complete a practicum at a practicum site where the student has already volunteered or completed a prior practicum, and should disclose this prior role to the Associate Director of Field Education. This may be approved after review by the Associate Director, and will depend on several factors including whether the practicum site can provide new and different learning opportunities for the student.
Students are welcome to recommend a practicum site that is not currently participating in field education by providing complete contact information. An Associate Director of Field Education will contact the practicum site to determine if the practicum site’s resources and staff will meet the qualifications for a field education site. Students should not initiate contact with a practicum site representative to negotiate a field practicum without the explicit authorization of the Field Education Office (an Associate Director or Director of Field Education).
Students will be expected to interview with the practicum site that has been identified by the Field Education Office. Instructions for setting up the interview will be sent to students, along with the contact information for the agency. The practicum site and the student must confirm the practicum to the Field Education Office. Once a student has confirmed with a practicum, it is unusual to be moved to a new practicum prior to the beginning of the academic year unless there are extenuating life circumstances that necessitate a change, such as an unexpected move to a new community that would require a significant commute to practicum. In any case, in the absence of extenuating circumstances, no practicum move is considered after June 1.
If the practicum site or student does not feel the match is a good fit, the student should contact the Field Education Office for another option. If three different practicum sites interview and decline a specific student, a Student Review Committee (SRC) meeting with the BSW or MSW Program Director will be requested by the Field Education Director to determine whether practicum site placement will be possible during the coming academic year.
It is the expectation of the Field Education office that students engage effectively with the planning process. Failure to follow instructions to schedule interviews, contact practicum sites, confirm placements or establish practicum attendance schedules in a timely way may result in the inability to be placed in the academic year for which the student has applied, and may delay a student's plan of study.
Placements are Not Guaranteed
It is the expectation of the Field Education office that students engage effectively with the planning process. Failure to follow instructions to schedule interviews, contact practicum sites, confirm placements or establish practicum attendance schedules in a timely way may result in the inability to be placed in the academic year for which the student has applied, and may delay a student's plan of study.
In the first few weeks of the field practicum it is critical that the student, Field Instructor and Field Liaison develop mutual expectations around not only when to communicate, but also develop an understanding of the different styles and expectations around communication.
Contact Requirements: Field Instructors, Field Liaisons/Seminar Instructors, and Students
- Students and Field Instructors have a mutual responsibility to contact each other prior to the start of the practicum, and to arrange an initial orientation meeting/start date.
- Occasionally, students and/or Field Instructors may wish the student to start practicum prior to the official start date. This is only appropriate in instances of completing prepracticum orientation or training, and should not include client work or other direct/indirect practice. The orientation/training hours can count towards the overall practicum hour requirement, and the student should be notified of this requirement prior to accepting the practicum placement. No duties outside of pre-practicum orientation are acceptable prior to the official start of practicum.
- The Student should inform the Field Office of the preliminary arrangements made with their Field Instructor concerning practicum site orientation, the start of Practicum, and 12 the students set fall schedule. Additionally, they should share their contact information as well as any special needs or issues that may affect their learning in the Practicum.
- During the latter part of August, and prior to the beginning date of practicum, all Students who are in practicum will are contacted by their Field Liaisons. During this meeting:
- Field Liaison will give students their contact information and share their general approach to the Field Liaison role.
- The Student should inform the Field Liaison of the preliminary arrangements made with their Field Instructor concerning practicum site orientation and the start of Practicum. Additionally, they should share their contact information as well as any special needs or issues that may affect their learning in the Practicum.
- It is expected that Field Liaisons will contact the Field Instructor during the first 2 weeks of the student starting practicum to provide information about the best ways to communicate about student progress, and to initiate a beginning relationship with the Field Instructor.
- It is expected that Field Instructors will provide a minimum of 1 hour of field instruction each week to the Student.
- If a Field Instructor is mentoring more than one student, group field instruction may be a good fit under the following conditions:
- Students have at least one individual supervision meeting with their field instructor per month.
- Students can request individual supervision if needed at any point, for specific issues they are not comfortable sharing with the group.
- The Field Instructor conducting the group supervision is knowledgeable and skilled in facilitating groups.
- Field Instruction meetings can occur via video conferencing or in-person. The Field Instructor, in collaboration with the Student, is responsible to ensure that the modality of video conferencing used (Zoom, Skype, etc.) meets the practicum site’s requirements for confidentiality, since client information may be discussed during the supervision period.
- It is expected that Field Liaisons will meet with the Student and the Field Instructor at least once each semester. The meeting can be at the agency or virtual. Field Liaisons will meet with students individually before or during the site visit.
- It is expected that the Student and Field Instructor will be available for supervision and meetings with the Field Liaison. If there is an identified Preceptor, they are also encouraged to participate in the site visit.
- Students, Field Instructors and Liaisons need to keep each other informed about any events that might influence the student’s field placement. Early identification of issues is critical in preventing problems. Contact the Field Education Office for additional support when there are unresolved issues, or when help is needed to brainstorm an intervention or solution.
Student: Practicum Site Orientation Suggestions
The practicum site and Field Instructor are expected to provide the student with an orientation at the start of practicum. Some suggestions that prior students have found helpful include:
- Manual: Develop a brief orientation manual that includes:
- Organizational chart
- Practicum site procedures
- Map of the agency
- Paperwork / timesheet procedures
- Confidentiality guidelines
- A list of community and practicum site resources
- Practicum site contact information and staff phone numbers
- Sample release of information forms
- Sample of other forms
- Other helpful resources for working with the practicum site client population
- Ideas for how to engage with students
- Local restaurants etc. for out of town students
- Other sites/agencies: It is important for students to spend some time not only learning about the site where they will be assigned, but to also visit other sites within the organization and collaborating agencies. For example, the student may be assigned to work with families and children, but it also important for them to visit the senior service center within the agency.
- Important meetings/trainings: Students are often included in staff meetings, case conferences, team meetings, and some board meetings. Many practicum sites have found it helpful to include students in staff training opportunities. All of these components help students to more fully understand the organization and the community as a context for professional practice.
- Safety issues: Safety should be a primary topic in the Student’s orientation. Field instructors should review the Safety policy in this handbook and utilize in constructing student orientation.
There are two basic options for completing practicum requirements.
- The student will concurrently enrolled in the required practice and seminar courses and the Practicum during both Fall and Spring semesters.
- Students end Practicum by the Thursday before Stop Day.
- Students resume regular Practicum schedules before Spring semester classes start.
- The Field Practicum year ends just before the end of spring classes.
Full-time students complete the required practicum hours at the same time they are taking the other required courses. Part-time students complete practicum during the year when they are enrolled in the required practice courses.
- BSW students enroll in SW 601 (practicum) concurrently with SW 600, SW 610, and SW 612
- MSW Generalist students enroll in SW 701 & SW 702 concurrently with SW 700, SW 710, and SW 711
- Clinical Specialization MSW students enroll in SW 801 & SW 802 concurrently with SW 810 and SW 811
- Macro Practice Specialization MSW students are required to develop an individualized plan if completing the advanced level part-time. SW 804 & SW 805 and the required Macro Practice Specialization courses must be taken concurrently with the plan developed with their advisor.
Employment Based Practicum
Another approach to practicum is an Employment Based Practicum (EBP). Students already employed in a social services practicum site or program may apply for an Employment Based Practicum (EBP).
Eligibility is determined by:
- The student must have been employed with the practicum site at least 6 months.
- The practicum site must be able to provide professional learning opportunities for practicum that are completely separate and different from the student’s employment responsibilities.
- In cases where a practicum has been disrupted due to a practicum site’s status change and there is not an alternate practicum available, the Associate Director and Field Director will work with students to identify a practicum within a student’s employment responsibilities. Note: This option sunsets following the 2021-22 School year.
- New learning opportunities consistent with the student’s program level or specialization must be identified and approved by the student, Field Instructor, the student’s direct supervisor, and the Associate Director or Director of Field Education.
- The student’s Field Instructor cannot be their direct supervisor.
- The professional learning opportunities in the practicum site must fit the requirements for the student’s level and/or specialization.
- The practicum site must be able to provide a qualified field instructor, who is not the student’s employment supervisor.
Accepting Employment with a Practicum Site
Students who can demonstrate that their practicum and employment will have separate duties and supervision can potentially be hired by their practicum after the end of Fall semester, and before the last week of practicum. Before the student accepts a position with their practicum agency, an application will need to be completed and approved by the Field Education Office to ensure the guidelines for an EBP are in place. Students are responsible for notifying the Field Education Office if they will be accept an offer of employment at their practicum agency.
Practicum with a former Employer
A student who wishes to pursue a practicum at which the student worked within the last year may contact the Associate Director of Field Education with the request. In this situation, the student and practicum site would need to demonstrate that the practicum site could provide practicum learning assignments clearly different from the recent employed position.
Some practicum sites elect to pay the practicum student a stipend. This is not considered to be an Employment Based Practicum. The stipend, as defined by the Department of Labor, is a fixed sum paid to the student during their participation in a practicum at the agency. In the case of a stipend, the student holds only the practicum role at the agency.
Concurrent Practicum Exception
In rare instances, students may need to apply for a Concurrent Practicum Exception. This typically involves the student taking the required coursework first, then completing practicum in the summer or academic year immediately following. Qualifying for a Concurrent Practicum Exception requires that:
- The student already works or volunteers in a social service agency that provides the opportunities to support the required practice course work while the student is not in practicum.
- The student has completed the Concurrent Practicum Exception Form and received written approval from the BSW or MSW Program Director and the Director of Field Education for these alternative arrangements. Students should contact the Field Office for this form.
- The student has satisfactorily completed the required practice courses prior to the Practicum.
- The student enrolls for academic credit during the semester(s) in which they are completing their Practicum.
As part of the application for a Concurrent Practicum Exception, a student must identify their plan for completing the required practicum hours. The most common plan of completion is the Spring and Summer semester block practicum, although a student may complete the required hours over the course of two consecutive Fall and Spring semesters. A Spring/Summer block practicum may be arranged by the Field Education Office when a student has had a concurrent practicum exception approved. In this plan, the student is in practicum 40 hours a week until the required number of hours have been completed (12 weeks for BSW or MSW generalist students, 18 weeks for advanced level MSW students). Because the Spring/Summer block practicum must be completed before the end of the Summer semester, students should expect to begin the block practicum prior to the end of the Spring semester.
In most cases, a block practicum cannot be completed as an Employment Based Practicum, and thus, students employed full-time must evaluate whether either take a leave-of-absence from their position, or resign. With the approval of the Director of Field Education and the BSW or MSW Program Director, a student may apply for an Employment Based Practicum as part of the Concurrent Practicum Exception only when the practicum is to be completed over a fall and spring semester and not as a block.
BSW Students and MSW Generalist students:
- Must complete a total of 416 hours in practicum
- 16 hours a week for 10 weeks in the fall semester and 15 weeks in the spring semester (25 weeks total)
- Students at the BSW, Generalist MSW are expected to be engaged in direct client practice assignments and activities for a minimum of 50% of the hours required for field practicum. This could include:
- Working with clients one on one or in groups
- Advocacy on behalf of a specific client
- Case staffings
- Paperwork regarding specific clients It does not include administrative functions that do not involve specific clients but instead involve processing aggregate data, policy advocacy, etc.
MSW Clinical and MSW Macro Students:
- Must complete a total of 720 hours in practicum
- 24 hours a week for 15 weeks per semester (30 weeks total)
- Students at the Macro level are expected to be engaged in direct practice with their practicum site’s clients. “Client” at the macro level may include individual, families, practicum site staff, organizations, communities, institutions, etc. A specific percentage of direct practice is not defined at the macro level, but should not be limited to a one-time occasion.
- Students at the Clinical MSW are expected to be engaged in direct client practice assignments and activities for a minimum of 50% of the hours required for field practicum. This could include:
- Working with clients one on one or in groups
- Advocacy on behalf of a specific client
- Case staffings
- Paperwork regarding specific clients
It does not include administrative functions that do not involve specific clients but instead involve processing aggregate data, policy advocacy, etc.
There may be cases where the student is unable to reach 50% direct client contact. In those cases, the student and Field Instructor should update the Field Liaison on they specific barriers or practicum context; and should demonstrate (either verbally or in written format) how the student’s learning requirements are still being met.
- Macro specialization students, who pursue a Kansas clinical license. must take additional post degree clinical course work.
- Post MSW degree, macro specialization students are eligible to be licensed at the LMSW level.
- In all states that license at the LBSW or LMSW level, you must have a correlating degree (BSW or MSW) from an accredited social work program. KU School of Social Welfare BSW and MSW programs are accredited.
Modified Practicum Plans (MPP) in the MSW Specialization Year
For Clinical or Macro students who are interested in reducing the weekly practicum schedule, a modified plan may be approved by the Director of Field Education, in coordination with the student’s Field Instructor. The modified plan guidelines include:
- Instead of being in practicum for 24 hours a week, the student is in practicum for 16 hours a week.
- The student begins practicum the same week as all other students and completes in July instead of April.
- With the Field Instructor’s permission, the student may accumulate extra practicum hours throughout the academic year over breaks, etc.. In this case, the student may end practicum prior to July.
- All practicum hours and requirements must be completed by the end of Summer semester.
All Practicum Students:
- Schedule should include a full 8-hour day every week, in order to learn the practicum site context for practice. In some cases, an 8-hour day is not possible for the student or practicum site due to operating hours, etc. In these cases, the alternate schedule should be worked out with the Field Instructor and reported to the Field Liaison.
- Schedule should be approved by the Field Instructor and should put student learning (not practicum site coverage, etc.) as the top priority.
Students’ practicum assignments and hours must be completed in the practicum site or practicum site sanctioned locations. Examples of practicum site-sanctioned locations 18 would be another practicum site where the student is scheduled to spend the day, a location at which the practicum site is conducting an off-site support group, a student’s home, etc.
- Students will maintain an ongoing written record of their Practicum hours in Sonia, to be approved by the Field Instructor. At a minimum, hours must be approved by the end of Fall semester for that semester’s hours, and by the end of Spring semester for that semester’s hours. It is strongly recommended that the student enter their hours weekly at a minimum, and that Field Instructors approve them at least once a month.
- Attendance: Students are expected to adhere to the same standards of conduct as the professional employees in their Field Education agency. Once the student and Field Instructor have agreed to a schedule of attendance, students are expected to commit to this schedule unless they are ill, have an emergency or have negotiated an exception with the Field Instructor. In this case, the student is expected to inform the Field Instructor, and others affected by the Student’s absence immediately so that their responsibilities can be covered.
If the student is unable to adhere to the agreed schedule on an ongoing basis, adversely affecting both the practicum site and the student’s learning, the Field Liaison should be informed immediately. The Field Liaisons will convene a meeting with the student and the Field Instructor so that a plan can be formulated to support the student’s consistent attendance and successful completion of the practicum. In rare cases, a student may have difficulty maintaining a regular schedule for Field Practicum following the implementation of a plan for the student’s success. Persistent absences, that follow a review of student performance concerns, may necessitate a disruption of the placement. Please see Protocol for Student Performance Concerns for more information.
- Sick/Family Leave: Students are allowed leave each semester that does not have to be made up. For BSW/MSW Generalist Students, this equals 8 hours/semester, and for Advanced level MSW students, this equals 24 hours a semester.
Prior to taking leave, student must contact their Field Instructor and comply with practicum site absence reporting policies and practices. It is expected that students will behave in a professionally responsible manner, by providing advance notice of an anticipated absence, and making appropriate arrangements for their absence. Accept for rare cases, this allowed time for sick leave or family needs does not carry forward from the fall to the spring semester. In other words, unused time allowed for the fall semester cannot be added to the time allowed for the spring semester. In addition, this leave time cannot be used to end practicum early during the fall or the spring semester.
The Field Director may determine unused leave from a prior semester may be applied to year-end practicum total hours, when there are circumstances such as a health incident &/or a significant life event.
Students are required to make up time for any absences that exceed the allowable number of hours.
Change in life circumstances/Extended Illness
In the case that a student will have to miss more than the equivalent of two weeks of practicum due to a crisis, surgery, or illness during a given semester, the student should notify the Field Education Office and Field Instructor as soon as they are able. The student will meet with the Field Director; and in some cases the BSW or MSW Program Director, to discuss the options and resources available to them. In the case of absences beyond the allowed Sick/Family leave that are due to an illness or medical condition, students may be required to provide a doctor’s verification for readiness to return and/or a medical release. Students are also encouraged to contact the Student Access Center to learn if they qualify for accommodations in practicum.
- University Holidays/Breaks: With the exception of Winter Break (see #4), if a student is scheduled to be in Practicum on a day that the University is closed (such as Fall, Thanksgiving, or Spring Breaks) or classes have been cancelled, students are not required to attend practicum. These hours do not count towards the student's total clock hours. As with sick/family leave, it is expected that students will behave in a professionally responsible manner and make appropriate arrangements for their absence long before University holidays/breaks.
Students may choose to attend Practicum during KU breaks and may count those hours. With a Field Instructor’s approval, extra hours may not be used to complete the practicum early. Extra hours may not be used to routinely reduce the weekly hours below the required minimum of 16 hours per/week. Given that, students and Field Instructors are encouraged to weigh practicum/course/life balance before exceeding the course hour requirements.
- Winter Break: Since the Winter Break is especially long, the Field Education Office sets its calendar based on an early January start date for the spring semester of field practicum. It is expected that the student will be back in practicum by the early January start date.
- Inclement Weather: Students are expected to attend practicum during inclement weather if the practicum site is open and staff social workers are reporting for work. If the practicum site closes due to inclement weather when a student is scheduled to attend, the student is not required to attend practicum. These hours do not count towards the student's total clock hours and will have to be made up at a later point in the semester.
If the practicum site remains open during inclement weather and the student decides it is not safe to travel to the agency, the student should act in the interests of preserving personal safety. The student should promptly notify the Field Instructor or the designated practicum site contact about the decision not to attend practicum. The student may use the allowed leave time for this absence or the student should plan to make-up the missed hours with a schedule approved by the Field Instructor.
- Study Abroad: If the student attends a study abroad program during the time practicum is in session, the student cannot use study abroad experiences as practicum hours. Again, students are expected to behave in a professionally responsible manner and make appropriate arrangements for their absence.
- Activities: The Field Education Office supports students in using time for the following activities to count toward completion of the total clock hours required for practicum. It is required that the student has discussed these opportunities with the Field Instructor well in advance of the event, Eligible events include:
- Attendance at school-sponsored educational programs that the Director of Field approves. Examples of school-sponsored educational programs include the Margaret Schutz Gordon Lecture, Social Work Day, membership on the School’s curriculum committee, the Dean or Field Student Advisory Committee, or search committee.
- Attendance at mandatory Field Education or Scholarship Programming events/orientations.
- Attendance at practicum site-authorized educational programs.
Guidelines for Supervision and Evaluating Student Performance
Field supervision is the primary means through which a collaborative relationship is developed between the student and the Field Instructor, and the means through which expectations are clarified and performance evaluated. This is a time to reflect on the activities of the past week – not just to report what was accomplished, but also to discuss learning points, share successes and struggles, and identify any specific needs the student may have. This regular supervisory meeting is different from the informal contacts that the student may have with the Field Instructor and other practicum site staff. It is a planned, scheduled time that is set aside to discuss the student’s social work practice. The School of Social Welfare expects that the student(s) and Field Instructor will meet weekly for approximately one hour.
Supervision meetings can occur via video conferencing or in-person. The Field Instructor is responsible to ensure that the modality of video conferencing used (Zoom, Skype, etc.) meets the practicum site’s requirements for confidentiality, since client information may be discussed during the supervision period.
If a Field Instructor is mentoring more than one student, group field instruction may be a good fit under the following conditions:
- Students have at least one individual supervision meeting with their field instructor per month.
- Students can request individual supervision if needed at any point, for specific issues they are not comfortable sharing with the group.
- The Field Instructor conducting the group supervision is knowledgeable and skilled in facilitating groups.
Here are some suggestions to help make the field instruction time most effective:
- Meet weekly, throughout the year, at a regularly scheduled time with few or no interruptions;
- For each meeting, the student should be encouraged prepare an agenda of important experiences they want to discuss;
- Use this time to focus on the student’s practice (questions, experiences, and concerns about practice), rather than as a time to schedule tasks;
- Regular reviews of the student’s Learning Contract can help to track progress, revise assignments when needed, and preserve a focus on student learning.
- The student can be encouraged come prepared with her/his written process recordings, and video or audiotapes, if this is something the student has chosen to utilize.
- The Field Instructor can review the student’s written process recordings, video and/or audiotapes and provide balanced feedback, discussing the student’s strengths and skill sets needing more practice for improvement.
- The student and Field Instructor should work to develop an open, honest and professional relationship. Part of this relationship will include determining the most effective way to give each other feedback.
- Students are encouraged to use mistakes as an opportunity to learn. Field Instructors can assist the student to explore concrete steps for improving professional skills.
- The student and Field Instructor should discuss the strategies that are most helpful in facilitating the student’s learning. Developing and trying new learning strategies is encouraged.
- The student will use the NASW Code of Ethics to guide to their professional learning, within the agency, and within the community.
- The student should discuss what she/he is learning in classes with the Field Instructor. Students should discuss classroom assignments with the Field Instructor for suggestions and guidance, especially when class assignments are based on experiences occurring within field practicum.
Providing Feedback to Students
It is extremely important to monitor and evaluate student progress throughout the practicum. In addition to the feedback the Field Instructor provides on a regular basis through supervision meetings, some additional mechanisms have been established to formally evaluate student progress on an ongoing basis. These include:
- Initial Learning Contract (developed at the beginning of the student’s practicum)
- Site visits (conducted by the Liaisons once per semester)
- Mid-year evaluation (due near the completion of the Fall Semester)
- Weekly process recordings
- Standards and demonstrating technical writing proficiency
- Spring Semester Learning Contract Revision
- End of the year evaluation.
It is important that along with the numerical ratings that the Field Instructor provide written feedback to the student. The final evaluation becomes the official record of the student’s completion of this degree requirement and is retained by the School.
The above feedback mechanisms are required by the School, and are expected to be completed with the input and review of the field triad: the student, the Field Instructor and the Field Liaison. Any of these parties can request to meet to further discuss the student’s progress.
It is expected that students who have satisfactorily completed Field Education and degree requirements will meet minimum qualifications for licensure. Therefore, a Field Instructor should NOT recommend a passing grade for a student if the Field Instructor is not willing to give a positive recommendation to the state licensing agency.
Writing Assignments for Field Practicum (Student):
Policy on Assignments
- Required to complete practicum: The assignments listed in the Field Education Handbook and field practicum calendars are required for the satisfactory completion of practicum at all levels (BSW, Generalist, Clinical, and Macro). These assignments include the Learning Contract. The assignments are used to assess student attainment of professional writing skills. Evaluation of writing proficiency is included in the Field Practicum Evaluation of Student Progress.
If a required writing assignment is not completed by the end date for field practicum, no grade will be submitted. If a past due writing assignment is not completed before the start of practicum in early January (spring start date for practicum) or by one month following the end date for field practicum (end of the spring term or end of summer block practicum), a grade of Unsatisfactory may be submitted for field practicum.
- Extension: If a student needs an extension of a due date for a required writing assignment, the extension must be requested before the actual due date, and the extension requires approval from the student’s Field Liaison or Director of Field.
- A new date must be set. Students are responsible for completing the required work by the newly specified due date.
- If a student’s written work does not satisfactorily address the expectations for the assignment, the Field Liaison will provide feedback and require continued work on the assignment to attain a satisfactory level of completion. The time allowed for satisfactory completion should be limited to one week from the date the Field Liaison provides feedback and the request for continued work to the student.
- Late or missed assignments: The first late assignment without an approved extension will result in an official written warning to the student from the Field Liaison. The warning will include a reminder that the on-time completion of practicum writing assignments is a requirement for successful 23 completion of practicum. This warning will be sent directly to the student with courtesy copies sent to the Field Instructor and the Director of Field Education.
A second occurrence of a missed or late writing assignment may result in a required meeting of the student with the student’s Field Liaison and the Field Instructor. A plan will be drafted at this meeting to address timely completion of all assignments. A copy of the plan will be provided to the student. The Field Instructor and Field Liaison will retain copies of the plan. A copy will be forwarded to the Director of Field Education.
A third occurrence of a missed or late writing assignment may result in further action to be determined by the Director of Field Education, which could include a recommendation for the student’s dismissal from field practicum and the corresponding practice or Macro Practice course to the Associate Dean for Academic Programs and the appropriate Program Director (BSW or MSW). This could result in a significant delay in the completion of degree requirements of up to one full academic year. Because credit is not given for partial completion of practicum, a second full practicum at the same level will be necessary to fulfill practicum requirements.
- Credit: Students receive academic credit for practicum only after they have completed the total number of clock hours and all required assignments in SW 601, SW 701/702, SW 801/802 or SW 804/805.
- Grades: Grades are recommended by the Field Liaison in consultation with the Field Instructor, and assigned by the Director of Field Education. Grading for practicum occurs two different times during the year. A student is assigned a Pass/Progress (P) or Unsatisfactory (U) at the end of the first semester, and then a student is assigned a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) at the end of the Practicum.
- Incomplete: An Incomplete (I) may be given when a student has made satisfactory progress, but has insufficient clock hours or unfinished learning assignments for completion of the practicum due to illness or other factors beyond the student’s control for which an exception has been granted by the Field Instructor and the Field Liaison. A plan of completion must be submitted and must be approved by the Director of Field Education. The approval of the Director must be in place before a grade of Incomplete is recommended; without prior approval, the Director will not assign an incomplete and the student may receive an Unsatisfactory grade.
Incompletes are given in the Fall semester in cases where the student has not reached half their hours and/or the Field Instructor reports they have not had sufficient time with the student to evaluate their practice behaviors. When an Incomplete is given during Fall semester, the first half of the student’s hours (208 for BSW/MSW Generalist or 360 for MSW Clinical/MSW Macro) must be completed by the end of the second week in March, or a grade of Unsatisfactory may be given for Fall semester. If an Incomplete is given for Spring semester, all practicum hours must be completed by the end of Summer semester, or a grade of Unsatisfactory will be given for Spring semester. All hours must be completed by the end of the Summer semester to avoid impact on graduation or program progression.
- Unsatisfactory grade:
- If a student receives an Unsatisfactory grade at the end of first semester, no academic credit is awarded for Field Practicum. The Director of the BSW or the MSW Program and 24 the Director of Field Education will meet with the student to discuss the student’s future in the program (Student Review Committee).
- If a student receives a P grade at the end of first semester and an Unsatisfactory grade at the end of second semester, the student may not receive academic credit for practicum. The Director of Field Education and the Director of the BSW or the MSW Program, the student and other appropriate individuals will meet to discuss the student’s future in the program.
- An Unsatisfactory grade in practicum may be assigned if a student engages in behavior described under “Grounds for Dismissal” in the next section. In these instances, a recommendation for immediate dismissal will be communicated directly to the Dean of the School. The Dean’s Office notifies the student of the decision to dismiss.
Change of Grade and Grade Appeal
Please refer to the University Senate Rules and Regulations regarding Academic Work and Its Evaluation- Article II, Section 3, for more information about change of grades and appeals.
Grounds for Dismissal
Students are responsible for reading the School of Social Welfare's BSW or MSW Student Handbook and the NASW Code of Ethics. Students will be held responsible for knowing the information about professional conduct specified in these documents.
Protocol for Student Performance Concerns
Please see Appendix B for the Technical Standards, Ethical Behavior Standards, and Professional Conduct Standards for School of Social Welfare students. If the student’s behavior does not meet the criteria for immediate dismissal, the following procedures must occur before an Unsatisfactory grade will be assigned in Field Practicum:
- The Field Instructor must inform the student of the specific aspects of their performance that are not satisfactory. It is usually appropriate to begin with a face-to-face conversation about the concerns. However, significant concerns or repeated concerns that are not improving after discussion with the student should be immediately communicated to the Field Liaison. When a practicum site and Field Instructor are willing to address problems that arise in field practicum to continue the placement, a change of placement is usually not considered.
- Efforts are directed to developing a plan to constructively address problems and concerns. The student, Field Instructor and Field Liaison are expected to meet to develop a behaviorally specific, time-limited plan to help the student improve performance and satisfactorily fulfill expectations. The Field Liaison can request the presence of Field Education Office staff at this meeting. The plan should be documented on the Practicum site Meeting Form in Sonia and should be behaviorally specific so that the student, Field Instructor and Liaison can readily assess and monitor the student’s progress toward attaining a passing grade. The plan should specify:
- Presenting issues and goal/s.
- Action steps by student, and/or Field Instructor, and/or Field Liaison.
- Specific dates for evaluation of progress toward goal/s.
- The Field Liaison will inform the appropriate Associate Director of Field Education if the Student is in danger of disrupting from practicum, or receiving an unsatisfactory evaluation.
- The Field Liaison is expected to be actively involved in any situation where the student is in danger of disrupting from practicum or receiving an unsatisfactory grade. The Field Liaison will offer consultation during this period to the student and the Field Instructor and will promptly inform their supervisor. The Field Liaison may require specific documentation from the student and/or the Field Instructor to assist in addressing the identified problems. Students are expected to cooperate fully with the Field Liaison and Field Instructor to address performance difficulties.
- Conflict Arises with student or Field Instructor (Direct discussion of the issue by student and Field Instructor)
- Notify and meet with the Field Liaison to address the problem and develop a plan.
- Complete a Practicum site Meeting Form including a written plan and follow-up date in Sonia
- Field Liaison maintains contact with the student and the Field Instructor to evaluate progress on the plan.
If Satisfactory Progress is accomplished, the Field Liaison continues to monitor progress.
If Satisfactory Progress is NOT accomplished, the Field Liaison notifies their supervisor, the Associate Director of Field Education
In cases of a Practicum Disruption, the Associate Director of Field Education will work with the Field Liaison to complete the Practicum Disruption Form in Sonia.
It is expected that the student will remain in the same practicum for two semesters, or for the entire block practicum. A change in practicum may be considered under the following circumstances:
- Unanticipated changes within the field practicum site that makes it impossible for the practicum site to continue to support the educational needs of the student, such as budget cuts, staff changes, and loss of clients. In these instances, the Field Instructor needs to inform the Field Liaison immediately. The Field Liaison will then immediately contact the Field Education Office and arrangements will be made for the student to be placed in a different practicum. When the change in practicum is due to changes in the practicum agency, the student will be given credit for the hours they have accrued.
- If a significant mismatch has occurred between the student and the field practicum site or Field Instructor that was not apparent during the placement interview, a change in placement may be considered. In order for a change to be considered:
- The student and Field Instructor should first discuss any difficulties with one another, and then invite the Field Liaison to meet with them if the problem cannot be resolved.
- If the Field Liaison agrees that there are irreconcilable differences for either the student or the agency, then the Field Liaison will immediately inform the appropriate Associate Director and complete a Practicum Disruption Form.
- Depending on the circumstances, a student may be placed as soon as possible in a new agency, or the student may be required to delay practicum until another practicum is available that meets their educational needs.
- Credit for hours accrued prior to the disruption will be determined by the Field Education Office based on all of the factors in the particular situation.
- In rare circumstances, the Field Education Office may disrupt the practicum administratively, if the student exhibits an extensive pattern of unprofessional or unethical behavior and the Field Instructor is unwilling to disrupt the practicum, or if the student exhibits behavior that is egregious in nature.
- For any circumstance under which the practicum disrupts, the Director of Field Education may request a meeting of a Student Review Committee. This will involve a meeting with student, the Director of Field Education, the Director of the BSW or the MSW Program and any other appropriate individuals at the discretion of the appropriate Program Director. The intent of the Student Review Committee is to clarify the circumstances leading to the disruption of the placement and to develop a plan for the Student’s continued progress in the program.
- In situations where a student commits an act, or series of actions that result in the disruption of the practicum, the student may lose all credit for the practicum and may not be replaced in another practicum. This is determined on a case-by-case basis through the Student Review Committee process, as described above.
Replacement Following Practicum Disruption
When a disruption occurs and a decision is made to re-place the student with a new practicum site during the current academic year, additional hours may be added to the required hours remaining. This will be determined by the Director of Field Education based on a review of the situation. This time is intended to provide the student, the Field Instructor, and the practicum site with a reasonable period of time for the student’s orientation and development of a new Learning Contract.
Confidentiality & HIPAA
The NASW Code of Ethics requires that social workers protect client confidentiality and privacy. Various state and federal regulations, including the HIPAA Privacy Rule, may also protect the 28 confidentiality of client information in settings where social work students are engaged in practicum placements. In order to safeguard these client rights:
- Always disguise the name and other personal identifying information when you speak or write about a client.
- If writing in detail about a client, ask permission from that client.
- Share nothing discussed in class about specific clients or other students outside of this classroom.
- Any information shared with the instructor will be confidential, within the limits defined by the NASW Code of Ethics and relevant legal guidelines.
The practicum site is the academic setting for BSW, MSW Generalist, MSW Clinical or MSW Macro Practicum. Practicum site staff work in collaboration with University officials to guide and support the student’s development during their field experience and therefore are deemed to have a legitimate educational interest in the student’s performance. As such, information disclosed to practicum site personnel, such as field instructors, may be shared with University personnel if it relates to or could affect the student’s practicum performance, including conduct at the field site. University staff may likewise share such information with practicum site staff.
Field Instructors play a significant role in helping students to become familiar with the practicum site’s safety procedures. It is not unusual for students to have concerns about personal safety. However, many students find it difficult to discuss these directly with the Field Instructor, especially at the beginning of their experience in the agency. The 2013 NASW Guidelines for Social Work Safety in the Workplace included this standard to guide field instructors:
“Standard 11. Student Safety Social workers need to be prepared for safe social work practice during their student years. Interpretation: As practicum experiences are an important part of the social work curriculum, schools of social work are responsible for ensuring that social work students are educated about concepts and techniques related to safety as well as supervised in safe environments. Social work safety should be part of the curriculum/training of field practicum instructors. Schools should place students in settings with sound safety policies and procedures that should be reviewed with students in school and in the placement setting. Professional safety should be part of the school and practicum site orientations. Students who have safety concerns about their placements must be provided with supports until the safety concerns have abated. If the concerns cannot be adequately addressed, the student must be offered an alternative placement.”
While it isn’t possible for the Field Education Office to create guidelines that cover every safety issue that could potentially develop while a student is in the field, we have created this set of guidelines in order to communicate the general expectations for the Field Instructor, agency, and student when it comes to safety.
Guidelines for the agency/Field Instructor
- If not already available, prepare an accessible safety/risk management orientation prior to the student arriving at practicum.
- Orient students to safety/risk management policies and procedures within the first two weeks of practicum placement.
- Orientation should include:
- Security of belongings
- Safety issues with clients specific to client population and service setting
- Safety within the practicum site building and in the office
- Safety during home visits or other travel outside of the office
- Health precautions and protocols
- Orientation should include:
- Review all safety/risk management policies and procedures with the student(s) at least once per semester, or more often if needed.
- Discuss assessing and handling risk in the field should be incorporated into supervision meetings.
- Students should not be required to start unaccompanied home visits without appropriate training and shadowing of an experienced worker. The student and Field Instructor should have a plan in place for home visits that assures the Field Instructor or Preceptor is aware of the details of the visit, and the Field Instructor or Preceptor should have the student’s cell phone number.
- Students should not be left to staff an office or see clients without other staff present in the building.
- Report critical incidents immediately, in accordance with the Critical Incident policy.
- Please see Appendix A for more helpful information about developing a safety plan with your student.
Guidelines for students
- Become familiar with the safety policies and procedures of the agency.
- Become familiar with the area in which the student is placed, including parking availability.
- Be able to explain knowledge of the safety/risk management policies and procedures to the liaison during the site visit.
- If a student has been asked to do something that makes them feel at risk physically, the student should contact their Field Instructor, Field Liaison, or the Field Education Office immediately. Report critical incidents immediately, in accordance with the Critical Incident policy.
Safety and COVID19
All KU School of Social Work Students MUST adhere to KU and practicum site COVID19 guidelines. Doing so protects you, the people you serve, and the people you work. You are responsible for staying up to date on your practicum site safety guideline changes. Check in with your field instructor frequently. Contact the Director of Field Education if you need assistance purchasing PPE, such as face masks.
If your agency requires proof of vaccination to intern at their facility, students may either comply with the requirement or contact the email@example.com to discuss a new placement.
Symptom Screening Guidelines for Students
Each day, PRIOR to attending practicum- self-assess for common COVID-19 symptoms and adherence to Protect KU and practicum site guidelines. If you answer yes to any symptom question or are not compliant with guidelines (i.e. have traveled or had contact with a person who may have COVID-19). Do NOT proceed to practicum. If the symptoms arise while at practicum: 1) follow practicum site specific protocol for safely exiting practicum, 2) contact your field instructor, 3) contact your health provider or local health department, and 4) quarantine 30 until otherwise instructed by a medical professional. In the case that you are precluded from attending practicum, contact your Field Instructor and Field Liaison. Your Field Instructor and Field Liaison can assist in planning short-term remote learning activities, if you are up to engaging in the work.
Personal Safety Screening for Students
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, STAY HOME and contact your primary care physician, local health department, or Watkins Health Services (on Lawrence campus, 785-864-9583).
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle/body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
The KU School of Social Welfare follows the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) guidelines for travel. Prior to attending practicum, students should report all travel to their Field Instructor. The Field Instructor will alert the student if the agency has travel-related quarantine requirements.
Adhere to the Following Practices
- Do NOT attend practicum if you suspect or know that you have been in contact with a person who has COVD19.
- A mask (cloth is acceptable) is required once you arrive on a KU campus and at your practicum site. (Request additional PPE Guidelines from your Field Instructor.)
- Embrace the Space: When possible, maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet. Do not walk shoulder-to-shoulder with anyone and do not congregate in hallways and break rooms.
- Students/faculty/liaisons will adhere to the physical distancing plans developed for each specific unit/location within the practicum site.
Contact the Field Education Office
- Questions, comments, or concerns about practicum safety can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Along with the expectation that students abide by standards set forth in the School of Social Welfare’s Student Handbooks, it is also expected that other members of the University community uphold the University’s nondiscrimination standards.
Pursuant to an agreement with the Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, the University of Kansas is required to include the following nondiscrimination statement in University, including departmental, online and print publications:
The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, IOA@ku.edu, 1246 W. Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS, 66045, (785)864-6414, 711 TTY.
This value commitment is also part of the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities. This Code “protects the rights of every student and describes responsibilities or expectations for student conduct. As such, it forms a significant part of the rules of the campus community. Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the policies that govern student conduct. This information may be found at: http://policy.ku.edu/student-affairs/student-rights-responsibilities-code
If a student believes that their rights have been violated the student is encouraged to seek consultation from a faculty consultant on harassment and discrimination. Or, as with any member of the University community the student has the right to contact the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access.
For purposes of this policy, “critical incident” is defined as:
- Injury to the student and/or client under the immediate care/supervision of the student
- Threat of violence to a student by a client or practicum site staff
- Abusive behavior by the student towards a client or practicum site staff
- Law violation by the student
- Any event that could have a profound impact on the student
In the event of a critical incident, the student should:
- Obtain medical attention, if needed
- Immediately notify the Field Instructor of the incident
- Establish with the Field Instructor if further action (law enforcement involvement, etc.) is needed
- Contact the Field Liaison and/or the Director of Field Education within 24 hours of the incident and report:
- What happened
- Who was involved
- Where/when it happened
The Field Instructor should:
- Contact with Field Liaison and/or the Director of Field Education within 24 hours of the incident to report what happened, including how the practicum site is handling the incident.
The Field Liaison should:
- Contact the Director of Field Education with any report of a critical incident.
The Director of Field Education should:
- Make contact with the student to ensure that resources and appropriate referrals are made.
- Plan with the student to ensure physical and emotional safety are addressed at the practicum placement.
- Plan with the practicum site regarding how to reduce the risk for critical incidents involving students in the future.
As stated by the University of Kansas Office for Institutional Opportunity and Access (IOA), “The University of Kansas prohibits sexual harassment and is committed to preventing, correcting, and disciplining incidents of unlawful harassment, including sexual harassment and sexual assault.” The School of Social Welfare shares this strong commitment.
IOA defines sexual harassment as:
Behavior, including physical contact, advances, and comments in person, through an intermediary, and/or via phone, text message, email, social media, or other electronic medium, that is unwelcome; based on sex or gender stereotypes; and is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with a person’s academic performance, employment or equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from University programs or activities or by creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or educational environment. Sexual Harassment may include but is not limited to:
- Unwelcome efforts to develop a romantic or sexual relationship;
- Unwelcome commentary about an individual’s body or sexual activities;
- Threatening to engage in the commission of an unwelcome sexual act with another person;
- Stalking or cyber stalking;
- Engaging in indecent exposure; voyeurism, or other invasion of personal privacy;
- Unwelcome physical touching or closeness; unwelcome jokes or teasing of a sexual nature or based upon gender or sex stereotypes; and
- Sexual Violence
If a student experiences any form of sexual harassment while at a field practicum setting, the student is strongly encouraged to notify the Field Instructor, any Field Education Office staff including the Director, an Associate Director, or a Liaison, and/or the IOA Office at: IOA@ku.edu or (785) 864-6414, 711 TTY. If a student sexually harasses any person while in practicum, this should also be reported to the Field Education Office immediately, regardless of the student’s involvement in internal practicum site processes in regards to the harassment.
For more information about sexual harassment and available resources, please visit the IOA sexual harassment webpage.
Students with Accommodations
- Once a student has identified that they have a disability and will need accommodations, the student will be referred to the Student Access Center (SAC) to work with a specialist on the specific accommodations needed.
- After receiving confirmation that the student has identified accommodations with SAC, the student should provide the Associate Director with information regarding the accommodations the student anticipates for practicum. The student may be requested to obtain language describing the accommodations from the SAC.
- The Associate Director will work with the student to find a practicum practicum site that is of interest. However, some accommodations may limit the practicum site options available to a student.
- The practicum site Associate Director will contact the practicum site and relay the language that has been provided by the student or SAC regarding accommodations, to assess with the practicum site if they can accommodate the student. At this point, the student may opt to share or not share their identity.
- Once the Associate Director and the student have identified an practicum site that is ready to interview the student, the student will be responsible for working with SAC to provide accommodation language that is specific to the practicum site and will discuss with the practicum site during the interview process.
- An accommodations letter, drafted by the SAC, must be provided by the student to the field practicum site and the Field Education Office before beginning practicum.
Pregnant and Newly Parenting Students
The School of Social Welfare recognizes the importance of helping pregnant and newly parenting students to maintain progress in their academic degree programs. Family well-being and gender equity both demand that academic institutions remain responsive to the challenges that pregnancy, recent childbirth, adoption, or placement of a foster child in the home can bring. Moreover, as an educational institution that receives federal funds, the SSW is required to comply with Title IX. In accordance with Title IX, we encourage pregnant and new parents to review the federal government’s policy on this issue. In accordance with the KULC Academic Accommodations for New Parents policy, students, faculty, instructors, and field staff are expected to work with sensitivity and imagination, making good-faith efforts to articulate and meet the needs of student parents. Students are expected to be proactive in articulating specific accommodations that will enable them to remain in good standing and maintain satisfactory progress toward a degree
New parents who arrange for an academic accommodation will be able to maintain their established enrollment level (full-time or part-time) until the end of the accommodation period or the end of the semester, whichever comes first. They will thus retain access to all KU facilities and privileges for which they are eligible (including, but not limited to, student health insurance, libraries, email, and parking), and they will continue to be students at their established level for all university matters involving financial aid (e.g., loan eligibility and deferment) and immigration (e.g., immigration requirements). This policy provides academic accommodation only. If new parents must also take time off work, it may result in income and/or a loss of funding support. This policy does not alter or modify the university’s employment policies concerning paid or unpaid time off. Students employed on campus should consult with their employers if they need to request time off from work.
Field Practicum Placements and Accommodations
The field practicum site is an extension of the educational environment. Therefore, students entitled to accommodations in the classroom are entitled to equivalent accommodations in practicum. Students who are pregnant or welcoming new children and will need accommodations in practicum should contact the Director of Field Education as soon as possible before they wish to begin accommodations. For employment based practicums or practicums with a stipend, refer to practicum site policy regarding the impact of accommodations on student financial support.
Pregnancy and Parenting Accommodations
- If a student’s absence from practicum is medically necessary, and that necessity is documented by a health provider, the student should be allowed to miss practicum without an impact on their grade. The student should contact their Field Instructor to ensure that any client needs are taken care of when the student is unable to attend.
- Similarly, if a practicum assignment is late due to medical necessity related to the pregnancy, the Field Liaison should not refuse to accept the late assignment.
- The student will be expected to complete the required number of hours in practicum, regardless of medical leave. The student should work with the Field Liaison and the Field Instructor to establish times to make up the missed practicum hours after the medical leave is no longer needed.
- If the student wishes to arrange pregnancy and parenting accommodations with their practicum agency, the student should contact the Director of Field Education as soon as possible.
- The student will be expected to fill out the Modified Plan Request form, which requires the student describe or submit:
- Approximately when the leave is anticipated to take place.
- How the student will modify practicum hours to enable the leave of up to 6 weeks. This could include adding extra practicum hours in the weeks prior to the leave, adding extra practicum hours in the weeks after leave has concluded, or extending practicum into the summer.
- Verification that the Field Instructor/practicum site is aware of and supports the plan. If the practicum site is not able to support the student’s plan, the Field Education Office will work with the student to attempt to find another practicum opportunity that will enable to student to take maternity/paternity leave without delaying the student’s progress in the program.
- Once the Modified Plan form has been received, including verification from the agency, the Director of Field Education will notify the BSW or MSW Program Director of the leave plan.
- The Field Education Office will make every effort to modify the student’s plan, such modifications may not be possible depending on the timing of the birth, adoption, or placement of a foster child in the home.
- The student will be expected to fill out the Modified Plan Request form, which requires the student describe or submit:
Beginning July 1, 2017, Kansas law allows for the concealed carry of handguns in most buildings and areas on University campuses. The University of Kansas has developed a concealed carry policy to help provide guidance to its employees and students about how the terms of this law apply on the KU campus, in public spaces and in classrooms. KU employees and students should read this policy, known as the Personal and Family Protection Act (PFPA), to fully inform their responsibilities should they carry a concealed weapon or become aware that another person is doing so.
Individuals who choose to carry concealed handguns are solely responsible to do so in a safe and secure manner in strict conformity with state and federal laws and KU weapons policy. Safety measures outlined in the KU weapons policy specify that a concealed handgun:
- Must be under the constant control of the carrier
- Must be out of view, concealed either on the body of the carrier, or in a backpack, purse, or bag that remains at all times under the carrier’s custody and control
- Must be in a holster that covers the trigger area and secures any external hammer in an un-cocked position, and
- Must have the safety on, and have no round in the chamber.
Individuals who violate the KU weapons policy may be asked to leave campus with the weapon and may face disciplinary action under the appropriate university code of conduct.
This course may involve activities in which students (1) will not be able to be in constant control of their belongings including backpacks, purses and other bags (examples: small group activities requiring movement around the classroom, tests, quizzes, field trips, study abroad courses) or (2) will be engaged in interactive movement and/or physical contact with others that may reveal the presence of a concealed handgun.* Students who choose to carry a concealed handgun must review and plan each day accordingly and are responsible for making alternative arrangements as necessary. The University does not provide appropriate secured storage for concealed handguns.
Further, unless your practicum is physically located on a KU campus that is covered by the PFPA, this provision of the law does not apply to your practicum site. Students who choose to carry a concealed handgun are responsible for knowing and following all related laws, restrictions, and policies related to their assigned practicum site.
The Learning Contract due date varies by student level. Please see the calendar below.
The Learning Contract is the required agreement made between the student, the Field Instructor and the Field Liaison about what the student is going to learn and how the student will accomplish this learning. The Learning Contract should describe specifically what the student will be doing in practicum, and how the assigned activities will engage the student with the competencies and practice behaviors identified by the School. The Learning Contract also serves as the basis for the ongoing evaluation of student progress in practicum. Remember that the Learning Contract covers two semesters and may be modified as new learning opportunities become available. It is not expected that every practice behavior will be fully attained during the first semester.
Learning Contract Templates for each program and student level can be found in Sonia. If the student, Field Instructor, or Field Liaison have any technical issues while completing/reviewing the Contract, please contact email@example.com or (785) 864-2268 for assistance.
Remote Learning Opportunities
Students experiencing a temporary disruption to practicum due to COVID-19 or other life circumstances may apply a Remote Practicum Plan developed with their Field Instructor and/ or Associate Director/Director of Field’s input. Additionally, the Remote Practicum Plan must relate to their practicum experience; be tied to social work competencies; and be approved by their Field Instructor, Field Liaison, and, in some cases, the Associate Director/Director of Field.
If a student undertakes remote learning activities during an all in-person practicum experience, they must amend their learning contract to include those activities. During the period that they are engaging in remote learning, they should continue weekly field supervision if possible.
Learning Contract by Student Level
The BSW and MSW Generalist Level Practicum is designed to provide students with a generalist perspective that will provide them with the opportunity to integrate knowledge obtained in the classroom with the realities of social work practice in practicum site and community settings. The Generalist Level MSW Practicum is intended to foster a professional social work identity and to prepare students for Advanced Level learning in either the Clinical Specialization or the Macro Practice Specialization.
The Advanced Level MSW Clinical Specialization Practicum focuses on helping the student develop the knowledge and skills to apply social work theory, methods, and values to the treatment and prevention of psychosocial problems, disability, or impairment, including emotional and mental disorders. Clinical practice includes the application of assessment and diagnostic strategies, the articulation of a treatment plan that may include psychotherapy, counseling, client advocacy, systemic and organizational interventions, consultation and evaluation, and other clinically appropriate interventions with individuals, families, couples, groups and social systems. The Practicum engages the student in supervised social work practice to develop these skills and provides students with opportunities to apply classroom learning in the field setting. This includes classes in Clinical Social Work Practice, clinical practice strategies with diverse populations, specialized knowledge in a field of practice or client population (health/mental health, children & families, aging, schools), and macro level interventions used by clinical social work practitioners.
The Advanced Level MSW Social Work Macro Practice Specialization Practicum focuses on helping the student develop the knowledge and skills to manage and develop human service practicum sites that improve the well-being of the clients it serves. Social work administrators do this through professional activities that include designing programs, managing resources, managing people, managing information, and influencing relationships with relevant community organizations and stakeholders. The Practicum engages the student in supervised social work practice to develop these skills and provides students with opportunities to apply classroom learning in the field setting. This includes classes in designing social work programs, financial management, advanced policy and programs, personnel management and assessing and managing client outcomes.
For all BSW and MSW students, the Learning Contract for each level contains core competencies, with each competency containing practice behaviors specific to the student’s level. The competencies and practice behaviors contained in the Learning Contract are interwoven throughout the curriculum at each level and address the Council on Social Work Education’s accreditation standards. It is expected that in numerous instances, classroom assignments may also be appropriate tasks for field practicum. Students are strongly encouraged to share their course syllabi and assignments with their Field Instructors.
Steps when Developing the Initial Learning Contract
- After the initial orientation is completed, the student will write the initial draft of the Learning Contract in Sonia and submit for review by the Field Instructor. Students and the Field Instructor should brainstorm specific tasks and activities. Ideas may also surface while shadowing the Field Instructor, Preceptor, or others during the first weeks in the agency.
- Once the initial draft is developed, the Field Instructor will review the Learning Contract and offer any additional feedback and suggested revisions. Once the Learning Contract has been updated with any feedback, the Field Instructor will submit it through Sonia.
- When the initial Learning Contract is submitted by the student and Field Instructor, the Field Liaison when then review the Learning Contract and offer suggestions and/or request revisions. Once the Learning Contract has been updated, the Field Liaison should submit the Learning Contract.
When a student is completing the Learning Contract, it is appropriate to consult with the Field Instructor, the Field Liaison, and/or others at the practicum agency, as well as reviewing examples provided by the Field Education Office. However, it is not appropriate or ethical to copy verbatim activities from:
- A current student’s Learning Contract
- A former student’s Learning Contract
- The sample contracts provided by the Field Education Office
Doing so is considered academic misconduct and may result in a Student Review Committee (SRC) meeting to determine next steps in the program.
Using/Revising the Learning Contract
Weekly supervision sessions offer a good opportunity for ongoing review of the Learning Contract. Areas in need of improvement, and/or additional learning opportunities the student wishes to have should be identified during the Mid-year Evaluation. At the beginning of the spring semester, the Learning Contract should be revised/updated. This update does not require rewriting the entire Learning Contract, but it does require reviewing it to determine:
- Which practice behaviors/learning objectives still need to be addressed;
- Which tasks outlined in the Initial Learning Contract require additional practice opportunities to attain basic competence;
- What new learning opportunities are now appropriate and available based on the Student’s progress during the fall semester and considering new practice learning experiences that may not have been available when the Initial Learning Contract was first written.
After the spring revision of the contract has been completed, the same review process as detailed in the prior section should be used.
Formal evaluation of student progress in the Practicum occurs twice – first at the end of Fall semester and again at the end of Spring semester when all of the required Practicum hours and assignments are completed. The same evaluation instrument is used for both semesters and is available in Sonia.
Each practice behavior needs to be evaluated, using the rating scale provided in the Evaluation. Along with the rating of student performance, the Field Instructor should write a brief narrative identifying the student's areas of competency and areas for growth. If a Preceptor is involved in the student's practicum, the Preceptor should be consulted by the Field Instructor in the evaluation of the student's performance in relevant areas.
The Field Liaison must have the evaluation before a grade can be assigned. If the Mid-Year or Final Evaluation has not been submitted in Sonia by the time grades are due, then she/he will not assign a grade. All Field Education requirements (hours, learning assignments, writing assignments, and completed evaluations) must be completed before a final end of year grade can be submitted. Students without a grade assigned at the end of the year are not allowed to graduate, or progress to the advanced level of the program. The student could also be at risk of receiving an Unsatisfactory grade if an approved plan for an Incomplete has not been established before the end of the semester.
Work related violence against social workers is a fact of life. It is pervasive and must be addressed by every school of social work, practicum site and individual worker. Violence includes physical assault, verbal assault, harassment and the threat of assault. Many occurrences of violence can be anticipated and their impact lessened; some may be prevented entirely. If practicum sites have well conceived safety policies and procedures in place, client and worker safety will be maximized and the practicum site’s liability will be minimized.
NASW Massachusetts Chapter's Committee for the Study and Prevention of Violence Against Social Workers recommends that every practicum site and private practitioner develop safety policies and procedures that address prevention, intervention and aftermath strategies. Listed below is an outline of requirements for developing a comprehensive policy and safety plan. This outline is general. Each practicum site or private practice must develop specific guidelines that address their unique characteristics.
I. Safety Plan of Action
A written safety plan specific to the function and layout of each agency, or branch or division of an organization must be developed. Both staff input and expert consultation are important in the planning. Each safety plan must be detailed and comprehensive so that all staff members, clinical and non-clinical, know what to do in case of emergency. The plan must be reviewed and practiced on a regular basis if it is to be useful. A comprehensive safety plan should include:
- How to recognize signs of agitation.
- What to do at first signs of agitation.
- Code words and phrases to signal for help without increasing the client's agitation
- Format for ongoing assessment of a client's level of dangerousness.
- Format for intervention including:
- When and how to attempt de-escalation.
- When and how to use non-violent self-defense, physical evasion, force deflection and disengagement skills.
- When and how to call security or police.
- When and how to evacuate building.
II. Exterior and Physical Layout
- Maintain and furnish the facility so that it presents an organized, calm and respectful appearance to clients. Pay particular attention to the waiting area.
- Ensure adequate lighting inside and out.
- Be aware of traffic patterns with special attention to where clients can go unescorted. If the location of bathrooms and coffee area allows unescorted clients to walk through the building, be aware of the risks.
- Establish a risk room where potentially violent or agitated clients can be seen. This room should be furnished in a sparse, neutral manner, and located in a centrally located area with ready access to help.
- Evaluate the need for safety equipment including buzzers and alarms in offices.
- Furnish offices to allow a comfortable distance between client and worker and to permit easy exit for both. Eliminate items that may be thrown or used as weapons.
- Routinely inspect exterior and interior layout and all safety equipment to ensure all is in working order.
III. Rules, Regulations and Procedures
- Establish a format for taking a required history of violence as a part of regular intake procedure.
- Establish a format for communicating violent history to staff when current danger exists.
- Ensure adequate staffing at all times; no one should work in a building alone.
- Communicate safety policies to clients, when indicated.
- Orient new students to safety policy and plan.
- Formulate and post a policy re: providing services to clients who carry or have guns and weapons.
- Formulate and post a policy re: providing services to clients who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Provide ongoing supervision, consultation and training in:
- details of the safety policy and plan with regular updates.
- assessment of the client's potential to become violent.
- treatment and clinical interventions with violent clients.
- de-escalation techniques.
- non-violent self-defense, physical evasion, force deflection and disengagement skills.
- Tarasoff decision - the duty to warn and protect.
- aftermath of client violence.
- Address institutional practices that unintentionally contribute to client violence.
- Develop a policy on home visits which include:
- leaving itinerary with office staff so worker location is known at all times.
- phoning the office frequently when in the field.
- providing portable phones and other safety equipment.
- providing options for escorts: staff or police.
- giving permission not to go when risk of violence is high.
- Establish relationships with security and police. Let them know what you do and what you need from them.
- Design a program to address the aftermath of client violence. Address the physical and emotional needs, short and long term, of the assaulted worker, worker's family, coworkers and affected clients as well as a format for debriefing and communicating with all staff following an occurrence of violence.
- Develop a format to address the consequences of violent behavior with the client. Include the effect of the violence on services. Develop a format to determine when and how legal action against the violent client will be taken.
- Log and communicate to staff all work-related occurrences of violence including threats.
- Re-evaluate policies, procedures and training needs following an occurrence of violence.
- Develop a "Risk Assessment" tool and train all staff to use it.
THE KU SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WELFARE EXPECTS THAT THE FIELD INSTRUCTOR AND STUDENT WILL REVIEW THE PRACTICUM SITE SAFETY PLAN AS PART OF THE ORIENTATION PROCESS.
*All information is this section is taken from the National Association of Social Workers web site.
First, students must attest that they possess the physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral attributes necessary to fulfill the requirements of social work education. To adequately prepare for, and engage in, social work practice, students must be able to demonstrate the following abilities in order to fully participate in all aspects of coursework and the field practicum.
- Communication- A student must be able to communicate effectively, sensitively, and professionally with other students, faculty, staff, clients, field instructor, and practicum agency staff in accordance with the NASW Code of Ethics. Communication includes not only speech but also reading and writing. The student must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form.
- Motor and Sensory- A student must have sufficient motor and sensory function to be able to attend class and complete a practicum placement, with or without accommodation, by executing motor movements reasonably required to function in an academic environment and provide services to clients. Where indicated by a letter of accommodation from the Academic Achievement and Access Center, they shall make reasonable accommodation in order to allow the student to meet these standards.
- Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities- A student must possess reasoning, analysis, and synthesis abilities. Problem solving, a critical skill required of a social worker, requires all of these intellectual abilities. These skills are necessary in order for students to make proper assessments, prioritize interventions, and measure/report client and community outcomes.
- Behavioral and Social Attributes- A student must possess the behavioral and social skills required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of sound judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities as specified in the BSW & MSW handbook, and the development of sensitive and effective professional relationships with clients and community members, in accordance with the NASW Code of Ethics. A student must be able to function effectively under stress. A student must be able to adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent to social work practice. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skill, interest, and motivation are all personal qualities that will be assessed during the admissions and education process. A student must be willing to effectively use help and supports for medical or emotional issues that interfere with performance.
- Self-awareness-A student must know how their values, beliefs, past experiences, and attitudes impact their own thought processes and behaviors. The student must be prepared to engage in self-reflection and change behaviors that obstruct their work with clients and community members, agency staff, field instructors, other students, faculty, and staff. A student must be able to tolerate ambiguity.
- Appreciation of diversity- In accordance with the NASW Code of Ethics, a student must be able to work with a variety of diverse groups, and progress towards cultural competence regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical ability.
Ethical Behavior Standards
The School has a professional values commitment that requires the highest standards of conduct in human interactions. Students must agree to abide by the ethical requirements of the NASW Code of Ethics. Student behaviors in classroom, field, university and the wider community should demonstrate adherence to the ethical expectations and obligations of professional practice, noted in the NASW Code of Ethics and the KU Student Code of Conduct. This includes, though may not be limited to:
- Adherence to the NASW Code of Ethics and the KU Student Code of Conduct.
- No involvement with the criminal justice system that is so recent, consistent and/or serious that it may prevent one’s ability to engage in effective professional practice.
- Systematic evaluation of clients, communities and larger environmental systems and their situations in an unbiased, factual way. Suspension of personal biases during interactions with others.
- Comprehension of a variety of ways of life and values. Empathic communication and support of the client and community systems as a basis for a productive professional relationship.
- Appreciation of the value of diversity. Effective and nonjudgmental relation to and work with others who are different from oneself. Appropriate service to all persons in need of assistance, regardless of the person’s race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical ability. No imposition of personal, religious, sexual, and/or cultural values on clients or communities.
- Demonstration of respect for the rights of others. Commitment to clients’ and communities’ rights to freedom of choice and self-determination.
- Maintenance of confidentiality as it relates to human services, classroom activities, and field placements.
- Demonstration of honesty and integrity by being truthful about background, experiences, and qualifications; doing one’s own work; giving credit for the ideas of others; and providing proper citation of source materials. Behavior should be consistent with the rules on Academic Misconduct found in the University Senate Rules and Regulations and the School of Social Welfare statements on avoiding Academic Misconduct found elsewhere in the MSW Student Handbook.
- Demonstration of clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries. Does not sexually harass others; make verbal or physical threats; commit acts of violence; become involved in sexual relationships with clients, supervisors, or faculty; abuse others in physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual ways; or participate in dual relationships where conflicts of interest may exist.
Professional Conduct Standards
The School of Social Work recognizes that preparation for professional practice requires more than scholastic achievement. The program expects students to exhibit behaviors that are consistent with the behaviors one would commonly encounter when engaging with professional social work practitioners. These are norms of decorum, presentation of self, respectful professional interaction, and qualities such as consistency, reliability, and self-reflection. Such behavior is expected not only in the classroom but throughout the University and the larger community. Thus, we expect that to remain in good standing with the School of Social Welfare MSW program, students must continuously demonstrate:
Professional Commitment. Exhibits a strong commitment to the goals of social work and to the ethical standards of the profession, as specified in the NASW Code of Ethics. Demonstrates commitment to the essential values of social work that include the respect for the dignity and worth of every individual and a commitment to social justice.
Professional Conduct. Students are preparing for professional practice while they are students in the School of Social Welfare. Thus, we expect them to exhibit behaviors that:
- Comply with program policies, institutional policies, and professional ethical standards.
- Are consistent with societal laws that are relevant to social work ethics and values and to the ability to practice professional social work effectively.
- Are professional in terms of appearance, dress, and general demeanor, including the use of appropriately professional language and tone of voice in interactions with clients, faculty, administration, staff, and other students.
- Show potential for responsible and accountable behavior by knowing and practicing within the scope of social work, respecting others, being punctual and dependable, prioritizing responsibilities, attending class regularly, observing deadlines, completing assignments on time, keeping appointments or making appropriate arrangements, and accepting supervision and constructive criticism in a positive manner.
- Demonstrate a prioritization of educational goals and the ability to balance competing life priorities.
- Demonstrate the ability to effectively make and implement a plan of study in cooperation with the faculty and staff.
- Work effectively with others, regardless of level of authority.
- Advocate for themselves in an appropriate and responsible manner and use proper channels for conflict resolution.
- Show a willingness to receive and accept feedback and supervision in a positive manner, as well as use such feedback to enhance professional development.
2021-22 Field Education Calendar
Practicum Schedule & Assignment Due Dates
Practicum Fall 2021 Aug.-Dec. Calendar
Practicum begins for Clinical and Macro students (week of)
Macro and Clinical Learning Contracts due to Field Instructors (Complete in Sonia)
Practicum begins for BSW and MSW - Generalist Students (week of)
BSW and MSW-Generalist Learning Contracts due to Field Instructors (Complete in Sonia)
Mid-year evaluation/Time sheets due to Liaison (Complete in Sonia)
Practicum Ends for fall semester/ Practicum Winter Break begins
Practicum returns for all students (week of)
Practicum Spring 2022 Jan.-May Calendar
Practicum begins for all students (week of)
First day of KU classes/ First week of seminar for BSW and MSW Generalist Students
Learning Contract Revision due to Liaison (Complete in Sonia)
Practicum Ends for spring semester
End of the year evaluation/Time sheet due to Liaison (Complete in Sonia)
Last Day of Classes