Field Directors

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  • 1.  Practicum Students as W-2 Employees

    Posted Apr 12, 2022 23:46
    Hello all,

    We have had several agencies recently propose to hire students (mostly MSW) as W-2 benefitted employees for their practicum.  This means that students would agree to work much more than required for practicum (30+ hours per week).  The motive of the agencies is to fill incredible demand and to build a workforce.  We love when agencies are able to pay students, but this arrangement is not just a paid practicum, it would be employment, which seems to shift more power to the employer and the focus away from an educational experience.  Does anyone out there have similar situations?  Any policies around how students in practicum are categorized (intern vs W-2)?  What are the legal and ethical considerations for us?

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts or insights!

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    CJ Sorenson
    Director of Field Education
    Utah State University
    Logan UT
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  • 2.  RE: Practicum Students as W-2 Employees

    Posted Apr 13, 2022 08:55
    Hi CJ,

    We have also seen an increase in this as well.  We have found that it gets really complicated especially if a student is not performing at a level they should as an employee or the student decides to leave their job.  I agree, the dynamic changes dramatically when the student is moved from the position of intern to employee. We want to be supportive of students who need to work so we are planning on making some new policies around this issue.  If you are able to share what you collect I would really appreciate it.

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    Sarah Brown
    Director of Field and Professional Education
    Monmouth University School of Social Work
    Long Branch NJ
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  • 3.  RE: Practicum Students as W-2 Employees

    Posted Apr 14, 2022 10:26
    We are also exploring this with partner agencies.  As mentioned, there are many benefits to the students, the agency, and the community, and we hope to find a model that works well for all of the stakeholders.  One of the things we have been most concerned about is the agency's requirement that students take on a much higher case load. For some learners this is manageable and for others it would NOT support their field learning ... or their capacity to practice self care/balance.

    We are in conversations with an agency partner who is trying very hard to skillfully balance the need to protect the learner role, the need to provide financial support/access for aspiring social workers, and the need to increase capacity to serve immediate community needs.  It is complicated, and we expect that it will take multiple conversations to land on a good pilot model.

    I will be interested to follow/participate in this discussion, to learn if any of you have found good working models.

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    Eva Solomonson
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  • 4.  RE: Practicum Students as W-2 Employees

    Posted Apr 14, 2022 14:06
    Hello! We operate distance education and online programs in addition to our "traditional" MSW program. We also have a "traditional" BSW program. Our distance programs are designed for non-traditional students who work and are balancing work, school, family, etc. In all settings but particularly in our distance programs, many students have to work full-time to get by. We are grateful the CSWE EPAS have/are changing to be much more flexible with employment-based placements.

    In addition to some other documents and processes, students and their supervisor must review and complete this document if they are seeking an employment-based placement: Guidelines and Agreement for Employment-Based Placements

    We decided to not have too rigid of a structure because the needs of the student depend on the site, the number of years they've been employed there, and the student's professional goals. I usually need to counsel the student and placement a bit to help them think through and develop a quality practicum. So far, our employment-based placements have gone about as well on average as our purely internship-based placements - many go very smoothly, some need a little help through seminar or via the field coordinator, and some have major bumps in the road.

    Best,
    Sarah

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    Sarah Witry
    Clinical Asst Professor, Field Education Director
    University of Iowa
    Iowa City IA
    3193351256
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  • 5.  RE: Practicum Students as W-2 Employees

    Posted Apr 15, 2022 00:14
    Thank you very much everyone for the responses!

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    CJ Sorenson
    Director of Field Education
    Utah State University
    Logan UT
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  • 6.  RE: Practicum Students as W-2 Employees

    Posted Apr 20, 2022 08:56
    We have started seeing this as well. I would welcome further discussion as this unfolds!

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    Mae Bennett
    Director of Field Education, Social Work
    OH
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