Hartford's Focus on Social Work in Aging

Aging Today, March/April 2003 | Go to article overview

Hartford's Focus on Social Work in Aging


An unusual program in the San Francisco Bay Area is working to increase the capacity of schools of social work at three universities; exposing master's of social work (MSW) students to the full range of programs and services within six county departments of adult services, including educating them about current and emerging policy issues affecting systems that serve elders; and providing opportunities for MSW candidates to develop the skills and knowledge necessary for delivering good-quality, cost-efficient services to older clients.

The Hartford Bay Area Practicum Consortium, one of six such programs in the United States, is part of a wider commitment by the John A. Hartford Foundation of New York City to enhance the education and training of social workers in aging by integrating and improving services for elders, and through academic geriatrics and training.

AGING-RICH TRAINING

The Bay Area program involves schools of social work at the University of California, Berkeley, San Francisco State University and San Jose State University. (The University of California's Center for the Advanced Study of Aging Services is providing administrative support for the project and has developed a project website at http://cssr.berkeley. edu/hartford.)

The other programs under the Hartford Gerontological Social Work Practicum Initiative are Hunter College, City University of New York; University of California, Berkeley; State University of New York, Albany; University of Michigan; University of Houston; and the Partners in Care Foundation of Southern California. The New York Academy of Medicine is providing administrative and technical support, and facilitates information dissemination to social work educators and professionals.

Each of the programs is charged with supporting the development and implementation of training sites for MS W students that offer them an aging-rich academic and field training. Each consortium has developed a rotation model that exposes students to the spectrum of care needed by older Americans. The aim, according to the foundation, is to test the feasibility and effectiveness of new models providing training for social work students and enhance each regional consortium's capacity to produce future cadres of aging-competent social workers.

The paucity of social workers competent to serve older adults is a looming problem that the Hartford Foundation has particularly targeted. The foundation is widely acknowledged for its programs in geriatric education for physicians and nurses, but it has also made a rare commitment to social work with elders.

FOUR MAJOR PROGRAMS

Besides sponsoring the practicum program, Hartford's current gerontological social work initiative includes four major programs intended to improve social work education at the baccalaureate, master's and doctoral levels.

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