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Idaho State University Social Work Students Fill Community Need

October 31, 2022

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On Saturday, volunteers from the Idaho State University social work program were volunteering at the community Homeless Stand Down. 

The Stand Down is a resource fair for those in the community who are facing a housing crisis. Haircuts, hot breakfast, sack lunches, clothing, health care services, job assistance, veteran and civilian resources will be available. 

It isn’t the first time social work students will be filling crucial needs in the community. Earlier this fall, social work students volunteered at Recovery Fest, an event designed to increase awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental health and substance abuse disorders. 

Social Work Department Chair Jeremy Thomas says events like these give social work students the opportunity to help the community, but it also gives them a chance to gain valuable experience. 

“The work ISU students do at social service agencies in the community is a critical contribution, both for the agencies and for preparing our students for future careers,” Thomas said. 

Social Work Field Director and Lecturer JoAnn Martinez said Idaho’s behavioral health providers have reported that Idaho has a shortage of qualified professionals to deliver appropriate mental health and substance use services. 

“This means we do not have enough qualified providers to meet the needs of our citizens in the communities in which we live,” she says. “In addition, Idaho is ranked within the top 10 states with the highest suicide rate.” 

It’s vital, she said, for students to gain experience both in the classroom, and through community involvement and field placements at internships throughout the community. 

In her role at ISU Martinez oversees all the practicum internships that ISU social work students do at social service agencies in the community. The Department of Social Work currently has 64 students placed in various agencies across the state doing field practicums. 

“Field practicums prepare students to enter the social work profession,” Martinez says. “They give them opportunities to develop and demonstrate competencies which are required by the Council of Social Work Education.”  

This academic year ISU students will complete 4,800 field work hours for the BASW; 2,400 field hours for the MSW Standard Program; and 10,000 field hours for the MSW Advanced Standing.

“We are very appreciative of our many community partners who welcome our students to their agencies, teach and provide them with great hands-on experience,” says Martinez. “We could not do this without them.” 

Current community partners that ISU students are working with include Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Bright Tomorrows, Walker Center, Eagle Rock Middle School, State Hospital South, Heritage Home Health and Hospice, One Love Agency, Options in Oregon, The Healing Center, Well Spring Counseling, Health West, Enhabit Home Health, New Day, Pacific Rim, Moonlight Mountain Recovery, 3B Detention Center, and RecoveryHE.


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