A team of students majoring in the social sciences at SUNY Fredonia will be in Albany on March 21, to present data they compiled to assess the value of social worker training and education at the bachelor's level for workers involved in child welfare services at the county level.
The project is a direct response to the defunding of Title IV-E monies that provided scholarships to Bachelor of Social Work students interested in working in public child welfare agencies.
Five junior and senior students, working under the supervision of Rolanda L. Ward, assistant professor and field coordinator with the SUNY Fredonia Social Work program, interviewed social service professionals assigned to county health and human service agencies in Western New York and parts of Central New York. Supervisors and training directors were among those interviewed. Students also reviewed civil service job announcements for content related to qualifications and job responsibilities to identify current trends.
Their findings will be presented at the National Association of Social Workers' Power of Social Work Conference as well as to state legislators who support social welfare education and training initiatives.
The research project is timely, as State Senator Tim Kennedy and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes have recently proposed legislation that would increase qualifications of Child Protective Services workers. Ensuring that these workers are properly trained is a key component of new reforms proposed by the two lawmakers. The legislation would, among other changes, establish minimum educational requirements and work experience for caseworkers and supervisors which, at present, include a bachelor's degree in Social Work or Counseling.
In addition, students will be visiting legislators in their offices to share findings and the current status of the literature regarding the outcomes of social workers in child welfare positions. The Social Services Committee of the State Assembly is comprised of 15 members, including Assemblyman Andy Goodell of Chautauqua County. There are five members on the Social Services committee of the State Senate.
Danny Galusha, a junior Psychology and Sociology major from Seneca Falls, said the SUNY Fredonia contingent is advocating for financial support and the restoration of Child Welfare Scholarships to provide financial assistance to students and support internship opportunities with social work agencies at the county and state level. Experience gained through these internships in the past helped prepare students for full-time positions in county child welfare agencies. The scholarships were last offered during the 2012-2013 academic year.
Also working on the survey were Antonio Regulier, majoring in Social Work and English, from Roosevelt; Kelly Forstbauer, Social Work, Webster; Kathryn Feather, Social Work, Jamestown; and Ian Jutsum, Sociology, Rochester.