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School of Social Work Work at UAA

Agency Roles & Responsibilities

There are several different titles we use for field volunteers within our programs, some of which overlap:

Roles as a(n):

  • Agency Supervisor (AS)

    The agency professional directly responsible for supervising the student's day-to-day activities. The agency supervisor, in many cases, does not necessarily have a Degree in Social Work.

  • Agency Representative (AR)

    A person employed by the placement agency who represents the agency in all matters relevant to the placement. This could be the field instructor or an agency employee who determines if the agency will take a student for the year. 

  • Field Instructor (FI)

    A professional, qualified, experienced MSW- or BSW-degreed social worker who supervises, instructs, and mentors the social work student in the field placement. The field instructor usually is an employee of the agency in which the student is placed. The CSWE requires that field instructors be graduates of an accredited social work program and have a minimum of two years of professional, post-graduate experience.

  • Outside Field Instructor (OFI)

     The term used for a field instructor recruited from among qualified social workers in the community who provides the weekly supervision to a student who is placed in an agency which does not employ a social worker who meets UAA / CSWE field instructor requirements.

Responsibilities as a(n):

  • Field Instructor (or Outside Field Instructor)
    1. Facilitate the student’s learning by establishing and maintaining positive working relationships with the student, the faculty liaison, the agency representative, and others involved in the field education program;
    2. Help ensure the student meets practicum course requirements by developing a working knowledge of the course objectives, procedures, requirements, and the integration of the field placement experience in the total social work educational program;
    3. Promote a successful outcome in the field placement through participation in student selection, orientation to the agency, development of learning objectives reflecting program requirements and student career goals; evaluation, and timely and constructive feedback to the student concerning the strengths and weaknesses of his or her performance;
    4. Maximize student’s professional growth and learning through participation in activities designed to promote continuous expansion of the ability to apply social work skills in progressively more challenging situations;
    5. Assure that the student is able to implement social work values and ethics in all professional interactions in the field work setting through weekly supervision and by example;
    6. Facilitate student learning and achievement of objectives by being accessible to the student at reasonable intervals (minimum of 1 hour/week), identifying and collaborating with the agency representative and faculty liaison to resolve problems or disputes as early as possible, and serving as champion for the student’s professional development; and
    7. Promote the continuous improvement of the Social Work Program and practicum course through participation in feedback activities designed to evaluate the program and course.
  • Agency Supervisor

    The positions of field instructor and agency supervisor often will be filled by the same person; however, a field placement agency may separate these roles when a person meeting field instructor qualifications is not available, an agency has multiple student placements, or an agency elects to separate the roles. The agency supervisor will work with the outside field instructor, with the student, and with his/her own colleagues in the organization to ensure that the field education process works well for all involved. The agency supervisor will:

    1. Represent the field placement agency in all interactions with the program, including negotiating the agreement between the agency and the Social Work Program, selecting students, evaluating the students and the field education program, resolving conflicts, and developing an acceptable learning contract;
    2. Assure that the field placement enhances the development of a student’s professional skills to work with diverse populations, vulnerable at-risk groups, and progressively more challenging situations dealt with by the agency by assignment to programs and duties maximizing experiential learning;
    3. Help ensure the student meets practicum course requirements by developing a working knowledge of the course objectives, procedures, requirements, and the integration of the field placement experience in the total educational program;
    4. Assure the agency supports the placement by provision of adequate working space and other essential materials;
    5. Promote the achievement of field education and student learning objectives by orienting the student, field instructor (if necessary), and faculty liaison to the agency, including its service mission, expectations, values, priorities, and key personnel;
    6. Help ensure the safety of the student in the placement by fully disclosing any known or suspected risks at the field site during the pre-placement selection process, and by arranging for the appropriate training to minimize risks; and
    7. Monitor student completion of any agency required background checks and/or confidentiality training and notify faculty liaison of any non-compliance.

Placement Process Information for Agencies

**Please note that neither students nor agencies solicit or arrange placements. Placements will not be made outside the following process.

  • Placement Process

    Step 1       The student completes their Field Application. The student becomes familiar with the potential placements in their community.                        

    Step 2       Agencies interested in hosting a Social Work student submit to the School of Social Work a brief description of the learning experience the agency can offer the practicum student. Field Instructors submit a Field Instructor Application. Agency Representatives submit a contact information sheet.

     Step 3       The Field Education Coordinator meets with each student during the spring semester to discuss the student’s interest and learning needs. The Field Education Coordinator will work with the student to identify potential placement options.

    Step 4       The student prepares to interview at the agency or agencies mutually identified as the preferred placement choice(s). The student is given the name of the agency contact person and is instructed to arrange an interview. The Field Education Coordinator contacts the agency to provide names of the student(s) referred to the agency for an interview.

     Step 5       The student schedules an interview at the agency. Students are encouraged to bring a resume and to prepare for the interview as they would a job interview, although the focus of this interview is clearly one of securing an appropriate social work learning experience rather than employment. The goal is for both student and agency personnel to determine whether there is a fit between student expectations and agency expectations for the practicum placement.

     Step 6       Students interview at the placement site. Students take the agency placement referral/decision form and give it to the interviewer to return to the School of Social Work.

     Step 7       The student and agency interviewer submit their respective decision form to the Field Education Coordinator. Either is welcome to contact the Coordinator to discuss their decision. If all parties concur (agency interviewer, student, and Field Education Coordinator) that this is the best match, the Coordinator will confirm the placement. The School of Social Work will contact the agency if additional information is needed (i.e. Field Instructor Application or if UAA does not already have an Affiliation Agreement on file between the agency and the university outlining practicum policies, one will be sent out for signatures).

     Step 8       If the interview does not result in a placement of the student at the agency, then the student will interview at other agencies as referred by the Field Education Coordinator.

     Step 9       A field orientation will be held in late August for students and agency staff. Program materials will be provided to guide the practicum and the necessary forms for documentation of practicum activities will be included.

     Step 10     Students enter placements in late August or early September following review of practicum expectations in the practicum seminar.