LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Social Welfare has announced it will offer its Advanced Standing Master of Social Work program, titled Western Kansas MSW Program, in western Kansas starting in summer 2013. The program is made possible through a partnership between Fort Hays State University and KU and in cooperation with Garden City Community College.
The KU School of Social Welfare, through its partnerships with frontier and rural stakeholders, has long recognized the need for more prepared social workers in western Kansas in order to meet the gaps in service provision that human service agencies have experienced. Currently, all Master of Social Work degree programs are offered in far eastern Kansas, making it difficult for social workers in the west to advance their education without moving or commuting out of state. After KU developed and piloted a successful blended option in its MSW program, it became feasible to think about strategies to bring the program to western Kansas. The blended option combines the value of in-class instruction alternating with online instruction.
“Fortunately, the School found a partner in Fort Hays State University’s director of the social work baccalaureate program, Dr. Tim Davis. Davis, too, had long been concerned about the identified service gaps in western and southwestern Kansas. And we agreed that together we could do something to benefit the people and communities of western Kansas,” said Mary Ellen Kondrat, dean of KU’s School of Social Welfare.
The first year, the KU School of Social Welfare will offer its full-time, Advanced Standing MSW program with a clinical concentration in Hays and Garden City. The program will be offered in a blended courses format. The blended courses option combines face-to-face and online learning. The in-class attendance will be scheduled for Saturdays, alternating with the online portion of the classes. This means the in-class portion will occur approximately every other Saturday at a classroom at the FHSU campus and will be taught by a KU adjunct instructor. Because of feedback received through focus groups performed by the KU School of Social Welfare, the in-class session will be teleconferenced to a classroom at Garden City Community College, so students living farther south and west do not have to drive as far to attend class. There will be an assistant instructor onsite to supplement the main instructor at FHSU. In addition, KU School of Social Welfare has hired a program coordinator, Kendal Carswell, who has started working on recruitment, marketing and logistical planning in conjunction with KU faculty administrators on the Lawrence campus. Carswell will work at the FHSU campus.
“I’m excited to be a part of bringing this opportunity to western Kansas. Being raised in western Kansas, I understand that there are limited resources in many areas. There is a huge demand for professionally trained and licensed social workers in rural areas for providing vitally needed services to Kansas residents and to fill gaps in services. My hope is that this program will begin closing those service gaps and bring quality services to western Kansas that residents need and deserve,” Carswell said.
The KU School of Social Welfare will begin the Western Kansas MSW program starting in summer 2013. The application period is open now and will close Jan. 15, 2013.