Social work study at Fresno Pacific University got a statewide spotlight when a faculty member testified before a California Assembly committee.
Donna Callahan, director of the social work program, wasn't sure what to expect on her way to an Assembly Human Services Committee Hearing on social work education and the social worker shortage November 14. "I didn't know until I got there why I was testifying," she said.
Among the panel's interests were the contributions possible from colleges and universities not currently accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). FPU was one of 16 schools that took part in a University of California, Berkeley study on the subject and was the first, and perhaps only, studied school to present to the committee. "We fulfill all the requirements for accreditation except having at least two full-time faculty and a large enough number of students," Callahan said.
Legislators and professionals present were interested to find FPU offers all required classes as well as some others do not, such as gerontology, and has a strong field experience program, she said. Social work students may choose among 40 placement locations.
An aging population is just one reason for a worsening shortage of social workers in California and across the nation, Callahan said. The average life expectancy, now abut 73 for men and 78 for women, is expected to rise to 80 for men and 85 for women in the next 20 years and to around 100 in the next century, increasing the number of people over age 65 by 375 percent over the next 40 years. "Counties are already putting new graduates in jobs that used to require years of experience and a master's degree," she said.