By: Randy Cypret
The Network of Behavioral Health Providers recently awarded seven internship stipends to University of Houston-Downtown Bachelor of Social Work Program students as part of a pilot program to place undergraduate BSW students with targeted, mental health and substance abuse provider agencies.
“Network members hope this program will lay the groundwork to interest students in nonprofit and public agency positions once they graduate,” said Dawn McCarty, UHD assistant professor, BSW Program. “The Network is a consortium of major providers in the greater Houston area and this project is the first phase of their social work ‘Pathways’ education initiative to help correct a significant work force shortage in this area. They plan to funnel social work students into behavioral health-serving agencies, and they’ve chosen us (UHD’s BSW Program) to pilot this program.
“It has been a massive undertaking this summer. I’m thrilled we will be getting financial support for our students and that we could become a national model for undergraduate social work programs.”
The Pathways internships will enable the students to complete their mandatory 400 hour practicum (15 to 20 hours each week) at a participating Network member agency and receive stipends of $400 each semester, McCarty said. The students also will take other classes.
Agencies that provide mental and behavioral health services in the past have offered limited opportunities to undergraduates or offered stipends, preferring more advanced graduate students, she said.
The Network, itself, is a nonprofit agency composed of the leadership of Houston-area public and private, nonprofit and profit, mental health and substance abuse provider agencies. The members are committed to identifying common concerns, emerging needs and public policy issues and collaborating to address those shared issues.
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