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San Diego State Boasts Innovative Field Settings

Over 20 years ago, Dr. Harry Specht, then-Dean of the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley, recognized the need to attract new MSW students to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to improve the delivery of public child welfare services. (See Description & History of CalSWEC.)

In the spirit of Dean Specht, San Diego State University’s Title IV-E Stipend Program is emphasizing creative partnerships and utilizing different approaches in field settings to revitalize the students’ commitment to public service and social justice as well as to enhance civic engagement.

The efforts are intended to expand the students’ conceptual and practice skills:

  • to recognize child protection as a community effort;
  • to empower families and communities to act collectively to increase safety; and
  • to address child maltreatment by delivering and designing services in new ways.

To that end, the Title IV-E program is creating new field settings that challenge students to develop group work skills to encourage people into social groups and community activities to improve their life conditions.

The program is working with Imperial County Child Welfare Services (CWS) and San Diego County CWS regional managers to identify key concerns. It is using existing data on the geographic locations of neighborhoods with high rates of child abuse reports, domestic violence, and crime along with high food insecurity, unemployment, and poor environmental conditions. With this information, the partners are developing field placements in these locations to address safety and well-being of children and families.

Novel Field Placements
Examples of new field settings to engage families and reduce child maltreatment include:

  • Imperial County: Five employee-students in the part-time MSW IV-E program completed their advanced year internship as a team field unit. They developed Family Group Conferencing (FGC), a family-centered empowerment practice, as a way to improve family engagement by educating the court, the local communities, and their own CWS peers. They established the protocols and procedures, then delivered services to predominantly Latino families. The positive response by families and enthusiastic judicial support resulted in the incorporation of FGC into the county’s System Improvement Plan and the establishment of an ongoing FGC unit in CWS. Additionally, the students’ presentation at the National Title IV-E Roundtable was well received.
  • San Diego County, East Region: Three CWS employee-students in the part-time MSW IV-E program initiated a team internship with residents of a 150-unit apartment complex to address the high rate of reported child abuse and crime. The goal is to build parent leadership and reduce reports of child abuse. The multi-year internship requires building relationships with families by soliciting their desires and concerns for safety. In collaboration with the University of Southern California, the students have established community partners to provide educational events and supportive services on site, increased police patrols to reduce crime, and engaged the private owner to improve landscaping and the general condition of the apartment complex.
  • National City’s Westside: In partnership with Kimball Elementary School in a predominantly Mexican American community, the IV-E program has invested in developing an alliance of community partners: the Hunger Coalition, the Environmental Health Coalition, CalFresh, South Bay Community Services, Public Health, a family resource center, the National School District, and the vice-mayor of National City to work with neighborhood parents. IV-E MSW students are located at the local regional CWS office and the school. Over the next few years, they will be involved in multiple levels of intervention in this comprehensive effort to increase parent leadership, reduce maltreatment, and increase educational success.

For more information, please contact Project Coordinator Ken Nakamura, San Diego State University Title IV-E Program. Learn more about CalSWEC's Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program.