Social work program to be reaccredited

The 500-page document sitting on Brien Bolin’s desk isn’t just any study to him.

“It’s really a story of who we are, how we do our program, how we connect to the community, and how we connect to the university,” Bolin said.

That document is just one of six volumes he prepared for the Council on Social Work Education to reaccredit the Wichita State School of Social Work’s bachelor’s and master’s programs. The process began in 2008 and wrapped up in February with a site visit by the council. Now, both programs are reaccredited through 2021.

“It’s a fairly lengthy process to become reaccredited,” Bolin said. “You first have to make a proposal to the Council of Social Work Education. That proposal has to be accepted. You then go into candidacy. During candidacy, you work with the Council on Social Work Education to develop a program that meets their criteria. Once that’s done then you undergo your first self-study.”

This self-study lays out what the program is, its mission, its curriculum, its culture and its assessment, Bolin said.

Since the WSU SOSW’s last accreditation in 2003, the council has refined its standards. Bolin and his faculty needed to make sure their program met those criteria.

“The biggest changes were in their movement away from learning objectives and accreditation standards to competency-based language,” Bolin said. “What that means is our students need to demonstrate that they’re competent to practice within a general social work framework.”

In the last few years, the school has introduced new curriculum into its master’s and bachelor’s programs, centralized social work classes at WSU’s main campus and worked on building its faculty.

“We’re really just focusing on our students and our faculty this year and making sure that the students are feeling more connected to this university,” Bolin said. “We are trying to work toward developing our scholarship and our faculty presence in the community.”

The connection between the school and the Wichita community is a big part of what the program is about. Each year, about 180 practicum students complete 100,000 hours of service work in the community. The vast majority of that work takes place through non-funded positions, Bolin said.

The variety of work done runs the gamut, too. Currently, students are working with faculty on projects that vary from teaming up with Botanica to look at how nature, social work, compassion and wellness have worked together to studying the role of yoga and relaxation in social work to introducing digital storytelling at the Ulrich Museum of Art as a way of teaching diversity.

“We’re a very vibrant program,” Bolin said.

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