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MSW Program-Competencies and Practice Behaviors

As an accredited program since 2012, our students are required to meet core competencies. Students are evaluated on their mastery of the competencies, which include the accreditation standards of the Council on Social Work Education. These competencies and practice behaviors will be measured as part of their professional training within the dimensions of social work practice. The practice behaviors in the first year or foundation year of the MSW program are the same as the practice behaviors in the BSW program. The practice behaviors differ in the second year/advanced concentration year of the MSW Program.

Educational Policy 2.1.1

Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly. Social workers serve as representatives of the profession, its mission, and its core values. They know the profession’s history. Social workers commit themselves to the profession’s enhancement and to their own professional conduct and growth.

Social workers

  • advocate for client access to the services of social work;
  • practice personal reflection and self-correction to assure continual professional development;
  • attend to professional roles and boundaries;
  • demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior, appearance, and communication;
  • engage in career-long learning; and
  • use supervision and consultation

2nd Year

  • Represent the social work perspective when among other disciplines in team meetings/interventions

  • Demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior, appearance, and communication;

Educational Policy 2.1.2

Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice. Social workers have an obligation to conduct themselves ethically and to engage in ethical decision-making. Social workers are knowledgeable about the value base of the profession, its ethical standards and relevant law.

Social workers

  • recognize and manage personal values in a way that allows professional values to guide practice;
  • make ethical decisions by applying standards of the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics2 and, as applicable, of the International Federation of Social

Workers/International Association of Schools of Social Work Ethics in Social Work tolerate ambiguity in resolving ethical conflicts; and

  • apply strategies of ethical reasoning to arrive at principled decisions.

2nd Year

  • Employ strategies of ethical reasoning to resolve ethical dilemmas or value conflicts using the NASW Code of Ethics as a guide and utilizing consultation and supervision as needed. 

Educational Policy 2.1.3

Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments. Social workers are knowledgeable about the principles of logic, scientific inquiry and reasoned discernment. They use critical thinking augmented by creativity and curiosity. Critical thinking also requires the synthesis and communication of relevant information.

Social workers

  • distinguish, appraise and integrate multiple sources of knowledge, including research-based knowledge and practice wisdom;
  • analyze models of assessment, prevention, intervention, and evaluation; and
  • demonstrate effective oral and written communication in working with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities and colleagues.

2nd Year

  • Evaluate and integrate evidence from multiple sources (e.g. interdisciplinary teams, evidence base research) to inform practice within children and families practice settings or juvenile justice practice settings.

Educational Policy 2.1.4

Engage diversity and difference in practice. Social workers understand how diversity characterizes and shapes the human experience and is critical to the formation of identity. The dimensions of diversity are understood as the intersectionality of multiple factors including age, class, color, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, political ideology, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation.

Social workers appreciate that as a consequence of difference, a person’s life experiences may include oppression, poverty, marginalization, and alienation as well as privilege, power, and acclaim.

Social workers

  • recognize the extent to which a culture’s structures and values may oppress, marginalize,

and alienate or create or enhance privilege and power;

  • gain sufficient self-awareness to eliminate the influence of personal biases and values in

working with diverse groups;

  • recognize and communicate their understanding of the importance of difference in shaping life experiences; and
  • view themselves as learners and engage those with whom they work as informants.

2nd Year

  • Communicate and utilize appropriate theoretical frameworks and/or interventions with diverse populations.

Educational Policy 2.1.5

Advance human rights and social and economic justice. Each person, regardless of position in society, has basic human rights, such as freedom, safety, privacy, an adequate standard of living, health care and education. Social workers recognize the global

interconnections of oppression and are knowledgeable about theories of justice and strategies to promote human and civil rights. Social work incorporates social justice practices in organizations, institutions and society to ensure that these basic human rights are distributed equitably and without prejudice.

Social workers

  • understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination;
  • advocate for human rights and social and economic justice; and
  • engage in practices that advance social and economic justice

2nd Year

  • Recognize inequalities and injustices for children and families or youth (and their families) involved or at risk of being involved in the juvenile justice system and advocate for equitable and accessible services.

Educational Policy 2.1.6

Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research.

Social workers use practice experience to inform research, employ evidence-based interventions, evaluate their own practice, and use research findings to improve practice, policy, and social service delivery. Social workers comprehend quantitative and qualitative research and understand scientific and ethical approaches to building knowledge.

Social workers

  • use practice experience to inform scientific inquiry and
  • use research evidence to inform practice.

2nd Year

  • Engage in research to inform agencies of best practices that will improve service delivery for children and families or youth (and their families) involved or at risk of being involved in the juvenile justice system.

Educational Policy 2.1.7

Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment.

Social workers are knowledgeable about human behavior across the life course, the range of social systems in which people live, and the ways social systems promote or deter people in maintaining or achieving health and well-being. Social workers apply theories and knowledge from the liberal arts to understand biological, social, cultural, psychological and spiritual development.

Social workers

  • utilize conceptual frameworks to guide the processes of assessment, intervention and

evaluation; and

  • critique and apply knowledge to understand person and environment.

2nd Year

  • Demonstrate competency of human behavior and the social environment by communicating and advocating for appropriate use of theories to guide practice with children or youth involved or at risk of being involved in the juvenile justice system.

Educational Policy 2.1.8

Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic wellbeing and to deliver effective social work services. Social work practitioners understand that policy affects service delivery, and they actively engage in policy practice. Social workers know the history and current structures of social policies and services, the role of policy in service delivery, and the role of practice in policy development.

Social workers

  • analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance social well-being; and
  • collaborate with colleagues and clients for effective policy action.

2nd Year

  • Evaluate the consequences (intended and/or unintended) of policies that impact service delivery in practice setting
  • Know the historical evolution  of social welfare policies and how these policies promote, or inhibit social justice for vulnerable populations
  • Assess, formulate, implement and advocate for policies that lead to social changes that improve the lives of individuals, families, and communities.  

Educational Policy 2.1.9

Respond to contexts that shape practice. Social workers are informed, resourceful and proactive in responding to evolving organizational, community and societal contexts at all levels of practice. Social workers recognize that the context of practice is dynamic and use knowledge and skill to respond proactively.

Social workers

  • continuously discover, appraise and attend to changing locales, populations, scientific and technological developments, and emerging societal trends to provide relevant services; and
  • provide leadership in promoting sustainable changes in service delivery and practice to improve the quality of social services.

2nd Year

  • Advocate for services that respond to societal changes (e.g., populations, technology, policies, etc.).
  • Continuously assess global and national trends that influence service delivery to at-risk children and families.  .

Educational Policy 2.1.10

(a)–(d)—Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Professional practice involves the dynamic and interactive processes of engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation at multiple levels. Social workers have the knowledge and skills to practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Practice knowledge includes identifying, analyzing, and implementing evidence-based interventions designed to achieve client goals; using research and technological advances, evaluating program outcomes and practice effectiveness; developing, analyzing, advocating and providing leadership for policies and services; and promoting social and economic justice.

Educational Policy 2.1.10(a)—Engagement

Social workers

  • substantively and affectively prepare for action with individuals, families, groups,

organizations and communities;

  • use empathy and other interpersonal skills; and
  • develop a mutually agreed-upon focus of work and desired outcomes.

2nd Year

  • Utilize effective communication/interpersonal skills when engaging with diverse client populations
  • Engage in collaborative relationships with organizations that serve clients within children and family practice settings or juvenile justice settings.

Educational Policy 2.1.10(b)—Assessment

Social workers

  • collect, organize and interpret client data;
  • assess client strengths and limitations;
  • develop mutually agreed-upon intervention goals and objectives; and
  • select appropriate intervention strategies.

2nd Year

  • Utilize and identify appropriate assessment tools to collect data on behalf of client system within children and family practice settings or juvenile justice settings

Educational Policy 2.1.10(c)—Intervention

Social workers

  • initiate actions to achieve organizational goals;
  • implement prevention interventions that enhance client capacities;
  • help clients resolve problems;
  • negotiate, mediate and advocate for clients; and
  • facilitate transitions and endings.

2nd Year

  • Collaborate with multiple systems to implement appropriate interventions with youth and their families with complex problems specific to juvenile justice and children and family practice;
  • Implement prevention strategies that reduce risk and enhance protective factors for youth and their families.
  • Utilize evidenced-base interventions to assist in resolving client problems.

Educational Policy 2.1.10(d)—Evaluation

  • Social workers critically analyze, monitor and evaluate interventions.

2nd Year

  • Evaluate client interventions and/or programs utilizing appropriate evaluation tools and methods to assess effectiveness.
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