Academic journal article Journal of Social Work Education

A Collaborative Model of Clinical Preparation: A Move toward Interprofessional Field Experience

Academic journal article Journal of Social Work Education

A Collaborative Model of Clinical Preparation: A Move toward Interprofessional Field Experience

Article excerpt

THE INVOLVEMENT OF SOCIAL WORKERS in public schools began in the early 1900s (Aguirre, 1995; Tapper, Kleinman, & Nakashian, 1997; Tyack, 1992). Initially, school social workers were known as "visiting teachers," making home visits and orienting immigrant families to the role and requirements of public schools (Costin, 1981; Radin & Welsh, 1984; Webb, 1996). As they attempted to address the staggering social issues children faced, the role of social workers in schools expanded to encompass a myriad of practice activities (Webb, 1996), including psychoeducation and the counseling of children, adolescents, and their families. The primary social ills that affected children at the turn of the last century consisted of abandonment; emotional, medical, and physical neglect; or abuse (Holt in McInnis-Dittrich, Neisler, & Tourse, 1999, p. 3). These risk factors persist and many new ones have been added, for example, community and school violence and HIV/AIDS. The positive and negative psychosocial conditions that interface with cognitive development (socioeducational realities) exert profound influence on a child's capacity to concentrate, learn, and achieve (McInnis-Dittrich et al., 1999). Given the powerful risk factors that can affect the school performance of many children and the declining academic profile of America's schools (Martin et al., 1999a, 1999b; National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983), there is little time to lose in creating better models of student support through service delivery.

Currently, human service providers and educators support school reform that is flexible and creative enough to address the academic and psychosocial needs of all children (Arellano & Arman, 2002; Comer, 1992; Dryfoos, 1994; Dryfoos & Maguire, 2002; Hare, 1995; Jozefowicz-Simbeni & Allen-Meares, 2002; Tourse & Mooney, 1999; Webb, 1996). To accomplish this, the infrastructures supporting health and human service professions should be redesigned to promote more efficient and effective systems of care. Programs focused entirely on intervention have a history of being too little too late. In this new century, social workers must give equal effort to programs designed to prevent negative outcomes as well as to those that promote positive child and youth development. Full-service schools offering onsite health and social services, supporting the needs of children and families (Bronstein & Kelly, 1998; Coltoff, 1997; Dryfoos, 1994, 1995, 1997; Dryfoos & Maquire, 2002), have been embraced by many and appear to address both goals of prevention and early intervention. Success, however, also demands fundamental change in the roles and responsibilities that teachers, social workers, and other health and human service professionals assume in schools. Their collective effectiveness is determined by the degree of collaboration that can be achieved (Bauwens & Hourcade, 1995; Friend & Cook, 2000; Lim & Adelman, 1997; Thomas, Correa, & Morsink, 1995).

On the national scene, there are also many researchers and policymakers calling for a full-service perspective, believing that this is the only efficient and effective approach to service delivery (Comer, 1987,1993a; Corrigan, 2000; Dryfoos, 1994; Gardner, 1992; Hooper-Briar & Lawson, 1994; Jozefowicz-Simbeni & Allen-Meares, 2002; Tourse & Mooney, 1999).

Considering the breadth and depth of the problems facing children today, it is this approach that seems to make the most sense. This perspective requires a significant change in the way professionals are prepared for school-based practice. One innovative, constructive, and effective means of preparation is to jointly train interns from different professions, such as education and social work, in collaborative practice within the school setting.

Historically, professionals from diverse disciplines have been used in a parallel rather than a collaborative, process (Allen-Meares, 1996; Allen-Meares, Washington, & Welsh, 1996; Ginsburg, 1989; O'Callaghan, 1993; Tourse & Sulick, 1999). …

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