New Fund Supports Social Work Student Field Placements

In Falk College, field placements are a critical focus of graduate and undergraduate degree programs. The School of Social Work’s Office of Field Instruction has long-standing relationships with nearly 200 human service agencies across 14 New York counties, offering students a wide range of opportunities to train in real-world settings alongside agency-based field instructors, many of whom are alumni—more than 70 percent in 2020-21.

Thanks to a generous donor, the newly created Social Work Field Education Discretionary Fund, there is a designated fund that specifically helps cover the costs associated with field placements, such as transportation, background checks, and fingerprinting fees. The funds help manage unanticipated costs so that students focus on what’s most important—course work and field work.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of social workers is expected to grow 13 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the 4 percent average growth rate for all occupations. Many social work students pursue careers as social workers, others use the degree as a foundation to enter other helping professions such as teaching or law, or enter medical fields such as pediatrics, psychiatry, or nursing.

“The Office of Field Instruction has a strong belief in ensuring equal opportunity when it comes to securing internships, and this fund helps us do that,” says Tracy Walker, LMSW, Director of Field Relations in the School of Social Work. “Through the Social Work Field Education Discretionary Fund, students can choose a field placement experience that meets their professional interest and goals without financial barriers getting in the way.”

Mya Martin, an advanced-standing MSW graduate student pursuing her passion for helping others. “I’ve always wanted to help individuals that look like me that may be dealing with mental health-related issues.” Her field placements as both an undergraduate and graduate student have expanded her understanding of social work and the differences in micro and macro practice. Her most recent placement at Mckinley Brighton Elementary required a background check. “I reached out to the Field Office. They were incredibly helpful and easily reimbursed me for the out-of-pocket expenses.”

Allie LoPresti, another social work graduate student, plans to use her degree to work with children and families in a school setting. This year, her field placement at Grant Middle School required fingerprinting. “Through my placements I have gained many professional connections and opportunities to observe and work side by side with professionals with a wide variety of experience,” she says. “I have enhanced my creative problem-solving skills, as well as advocacy and communication.
The experience my field placements have given me also come with increased confidence in my training, education, and skills as I enter the field of Social Work.”

Social work field placement sites range from not-for-profit human service organizations, government organizations, school systems, correctional facilities, mental health clinics, and hospitals, among others. More information about field education in Falk College.