Campus: Northridge -- October 10, 2006

Los Angeles County Awards CSUN $340,000 Contract to Train Social Workers

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has awarded Cal State Northridge's Master's of Social Work (MSW) program a $340,764 one-year contract to train social workers.

In receiving the prestigious contract, Northridge joins four other Los Angeles-area universities -- Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Los Angeles, UCLA and USC -- as part of an inter-university consortium whose collaborative goal is to increase the professional skills and knowledge of Los Angeles County public child welfare workers.

Cal State Northridge's MSW program began one year ago in response to a growing demand in the region for professional social workers trained to work with a variety of communities, including the elderly and children.

The focus of the MSW program is on urban families in the San Fernando Valley, said James Decker, newly appointed MSW chair and director. New to the university, Decker brings with him the experience of building a MSW program at Bridgewater State College in Bridgewater, Mass.

"Our goal mirrors that of the university -- to become partners with the community," Decker said. "We hope to do this by training outstanding professional social workers who will demonstrate the skills and knowledge needed to provide quality services to community members.

"We also hope to develop international relationships, such as the one we currently have with the Republic of Georgia, as well as centers of excellence where our students will be able to put their training into practice." Of the 150 students who applied for the program this year, 33 were accepted and began a two-year, 60-credit program that consists of both class and field work.

The county-funded training grant provides eight first- and second-year students with a yearly stipend of $18,500 to cover tuition and some living expenses. Training for an additional eight students is provided by a similar state-funded program, CalSWEC. After completion of the MSW program, recipients of the county grants are required to work for a child protection or child welfare agency for one to two years.

"The internships cover the scope of human services in general," Decker said. "We hypothesize that 80 percent of our students will gain employment in the place of their internships. They will be oriented with the agency and their one-year training period will already be taken care of."

"We will be placing some students into agencies that haven't had interns before but can definitely benefit from them," said Beth Halaas, director of field education for the Master of Social Work program. "The hands-on learning experiences that these students will have are integral and key to the field of social work."

Second-year MSW student Frank Costello feels the training he will receive through his internship will give him invaluable experience.

"I hope that my training will ultimately lead me to job satisfaction," Costello said. "I need to find work that coincides with my passion for social work and I believe that the training that I am receiving will surely lead me there. "The effort of the faculty to get this MSW program off the ground and accredited has been truly extraordinary. Their dedication to the program and its students is quite remarkable and I am proud to be part of this burgeoning MSW program."


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