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CalSWEC, California Senior Legislature Partner to Offer a Unique Field Experience

MSW students who want to focus on the needs of older adults will have a special avenue by which to pursue that goal as a result of a partnership between CalSWEC and the California Senior Legislature (CSL). The unique field practicum program facilitates cross-generational communication, focuses on policy and advocacy for the state’s aging population, and helps foster advocacy and leadership skills among future social workers.

Informational Webinar: December 17

For the 2014–2015 academic year, CalSWEC is inviting its consortium schools to participate in expanding the program, which CSU, Bakersfield and CSU, Chico have already embraced.

Graduate students selected for this program will work collaboratively with an older adult who is a CSL senior legislator to ultimately develop a legislative proposal that could lead to policy changes to improve the lives of older adults.

How the Program Works
The program involves several steps:

  1. At the beginning of the fall semester, faculty members from graduate MSW programs identify concentration-year MSW students who demonstrate a desire to work on issues that impact older adults. 
  2. A CSL member, who serves as the Task Supervisor, provides the selected students with a list of issues that need a legislative solution. A faculty member from the student’s school serves as the MSW Field Instructor. 
  3. The students select an issue from this list or may offer suggestions if they have a special interest.
  4. The Task Supervisor, Field Instructor, and students engage in a conference call that provides direction and a timetable.
  5. The students research the issue to determine if it has been studied before and to ensure that it has not been previously legislated.
  6. Students develop a thorough academic literature review that informs a policy white paper or brief. This, in turn, informs the student’s final project—a legislative proposal in a format provided by the CSL Task Supervisor.
  7. The legislative proposal is submitted to the Task and Field Supervisors by May 15. All proposals are submitted to the CSL no later than June 1.  
  8. In October, during the CSL’s annual legislative session in Sacramento, all proposals are heard in policy committees and in general sessions. Students participating in the CSL field practicum attend the CSL session. 

Positive outcomes
“A desired outcome for students includes selecting the field of aging as their career choice,” according to Chris Mathias, who leads CalSWEC’s Aging Initiative and is a member of the program’s Planning Group. “We are happy to report that historically, this has been the case. They develop a level of professionalism and self-confidence that they are then able to leverage as they launch their social work careers.”

Other members of the Planning Group are Shirley Krohn from the California Senior Legislature;  Roseanna McCleary from CSU, Bakersfield; and Celeste Jones, Seema Sehrawat, Patty Hunter, and Jean Schuldberg, all from CSU, Chico.

For more information:

An informational webinar will be held from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. on December 17 for field directors who want to find out more about the "CalSWEC-California Senior Legislature Field Practicum Program." Contact: Kendy Rios Gonzalez, kriosgon@berkeley.edu.