INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana University School of Social Work has been awarded a $1.4 million federal grant that will help bolster the number of social workers trained to work with risk-prone transitional-age youth age 16 to 25.
Transitional-age youth face risks that include serious mental health issues, substance misuse and abuse, and suicide. But the numbers of social workers with expertise in caring for youth and young adults is inadequate.
The school’s Interprofessional Education and Training in Behavioral Health for Master of Social Work Students Project will recruit up to 33 Master of Social Work students a year for three years who are interested in working with this age group.
Students who are in their final academic year of Master of Social Work training will, among other things, focus their activities through practicum placements on youth from the foster care system, homeless shelters, mental health clinics and substance misuse treatment centers. The primary setting for the students’ training will be with agencies in the Indianapolis area.
The students will receive a $10,000 stipend for participating in the project and sign a letter of agreement to work for at least two years for an institution or agency serving transitional-age youth and their families.
In addition to the social service agencies, students will be assigned to one half-day clinic in primary health care through the Section of Adolescent Medicine in the Indiana University School of Medicine. That will allow students to be exposed to transitional-age youth through both social-service and health-oriented agencies.
The project aims to improve Master of Social Work students’ knowledge about transitional-age youth as well as their skills effectively screening such youth, assessing their needs and providing appropriate services.
Students who participate in the project will receive support after graduation as well. The School of Social Work will initiate bi-monthly educational and faculty support for the students. As graduates finish their first year of employment, they will be asked to participate in bi-monthly sessions for new graduates as session leaders or panelists on various topics of interest.
James Hall, a professor of pediatrics and social work, is responsible for the overall development and management of the project. He will work with Joan Carlson and Barbara Pierce of the School of Social Work; Carol Satre, Master of Social Work field coordinator; and Dr. Rebekah Williams, an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics and the clinical supervisor for the Section of Adolescent Medicine at the IU School of Medicine.