Monday, June 1, 2020

Higher Education's Response to Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) from an Equity Framework

Many countries have temporarily shut down anchor institutions during the global COVID-19 pandemic. The deleterious effects of the pandemic is nowhere more apparent than in the higher education sector. The respiratory disease compelled many colleges and universities to cancel in-person classes, close residential halls and food courts, suspend in-person events and athletic competitions, and shift to remote learning and work arrangements mid-way through the spring terms. Campus leaders are grappling everyday with how to properly direct their students, faculty, and staff through such unprecedented times. While many campuses announced plans to reopen in the fall with social distancing policies in place, other institutions are considering online or hybrid classroom formats. Below is a list of relevant online resources that will aid senior administrators, faculty, and student affairs professionals during this catastrophic crisis. It is essential that colleges and universities include an equity framework in their COVID-19 response. Our most vulnerable populations--African Americans, Latino/as, senior citizens, and the economically disadvantaged--are at a higher risk of contracting and dying from the disease. Click here to read a comprehensive overview of federal resources to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Higher Education Guidance, Resources, and News

COVID-19 and Equity Considerations

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Professional Certificates for Macro Social Workers

Lifelong learning is is important for personal and professional development. First, it enhances our understanding of the world around us. Second, it provides us with more opportunities for career advancement. Social workers and allied professionals in particular are required to obtain continuing education units (CEUs) for licensing renewal. CEUs are typically offered as a course, workshop, or webinar by universities, agencies, and associations. However, practicing macro social workers may encounter challenges in finding relevant content in macro practice settings (e.g., administration and leadership; advocacy and organizing; community-based initiatives; policy analysis and implementation; program development for organizations and communities; and research and evaluation). However, the majority of social work continuing education offerings are targeted for social workers in clinical or psychiatric settings. Generally, topics will focus on issues related to mental health and wellness with individuals and small groups. As a result, practicing macro social workers have to pursue a strategic approach towards continuing education that meets our needs.

What is the difference between a certification and a certificate?

Certification typically involves an exam administered by a third-party organization, such as the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). The ASWB offers five different types of exams for early-career social workers: Associate, Bachelor, Master, Advanced Generalist, and Clinical. The exams allow social workers to qualify for licensure in the states where they will work, depending on their level of education and practice area. For most professionals, certifications must be renewed on a regular basis. Obtaining relevant CEUs is part of the licensing renewal process. Certification recognizes achievement among professionals who meet the established knowledge, skills, and competencies in their industry.

Certificates are designed to respond to demand in a specific industry. These programs, which are offered for-credit or non-for-credit by educational institutions, follow a designated curriculum, have intended learning outcomes, and lead to an earned credential upon successful completion of the coursework. Certificate programs are typically shorter than master's programs. Since certificates are narrow in scope, the goal is for professionals to acquire specific knowledge, skills, and/or competencies.

For example, two top-ranked social work programs--University of Maryland and University of Michigan--offer several innovative macro-oriented professional certificate programs for social workers:

University of Maryland School of Social Work
  • Financial Social Work Certificate Program
  • Human Services Leadership and Management Certificate
University of Michigan School of Social Work
  • Online Certificate Program in Mixed Methods Research
  • Online Certificate Program in Political Social Work
I provided examples of the broad range of professional certificates available at educational institutions. CEUs can also be obtained at conferences and events sponsored by industry-specific associations. The following areas may be of interest to macro social workers:

  • Global health and social development
  • Higher education and student affairs 
  • Intergroup relations and conflict resolution 
  • Law and legal methods 
  • Nonprofit management
  • Program evaluation and assessment

Monday, April 13, 2020

Guidebook: Human Service Management Competencies for Social Workers

Social workers and allied professionals need access to best practices on managing public and private service organizations. In 2018, the Network for Social Work Management (NSWM) composed and released a guidebook (2018) of human service management competencies that every experienced and academically trained social worker should know for the successful management of both public and private nonprofit organizations.

  • For Professionals, the guidebook provides the framework to four domains: Executive Leadership, Resource Management, Strategic Management and Community Collaboration.
  • For University Staff, the guidebook offers a curriculum check-list (coursework, field education, and other educational opportunities) to ensure that social work (MSW) programs offer leadership development for students and professionals.

From the NSWM website:

"These are not intended to be minimum competencies, but are descriptions of the level of practice that are expected of experienced and academically trained professionals. Social workers practicing management at any level are encouraged to review these competencies, making use of the Self-Assessment form available through the Network office, to determine their own skill level and to develop an individual plan for upgrading their management performance."

As a MSW graduate who specialized in management and community practice, these competencies would help professionals, universities, and even state licensing boards develop uniform practice standards for human service management. While prominent organizations such as NSWM and ACOSA (Association for Community Organization and Social Administration) exist to assist macro-practice social workers, more information is needed to better prepare social workers for careers in nonprofit and public management. Many social workers enter the field without considering management as an option. Click here to explore and download the guidebook.