“We’re excited that these interns will be able to serve at all of our campuses and serve our students throughout the district,” said Willie Watson, SMCISD assistant superintendent of human resources.
The district currently has one social worker on staff. Watson said the social work intern program will provide additional support to SMCISD students. Two social work interns will be assigned to each district campus.
The program will be part of social work students’ practicums, or required professional experience. Students working to receive a bachelor's in social work are required to complete 500 field practicum hours. In the graduate program, students are required to complete 540 field practicum hours.
Angela Ausbrooks, associate professor and director of the master’s of social work program at the university, said interns will likely be in SMCISD schools Monday-Friday for the majority of the class day.
University students will be able to earn up to $2,500 per semester through the program. The anticipated annual cost of the program, which will begin in the 2017-18 school year, will be up to $120,000.
“With this intern program [interns] will work collaboratively with the counselors, with our parent liaisons focusing on chronic absenteeism, focusing on other resources and supports, offering those academic supports and groups,” said Monica Ruiz-Mills, assistant superintendent of teaching, learning and assessment.
Trustees voiced support for the program and floated the possibility of hiring more full-time social workers in the future.
Trustee John McGlothlin said he supported the program, but he said he wanted to ensure it provided consistency to SMCISD students.
“We see with that subset [of children needing a social worker] that people come in and out of their lives very inconsistently,” McGlothlin said. “It might be a parent or an aunt or an uncle or a step-parent. That’s part of what creates their issues of trust—the lack of consistency. I don’t want to think that by getting 24 interns it relieves our need for a more permanent, sustainable solution.”