It is the business of social work to help people improve the quality of their lives. It is the goal of social work practice to foster productive interaction between people and their environment. This practice involves working with individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations that encounter a wide range of problems including:
- drug and substance abuse
- mental illness
- homeless persons
- teenage pregnancy
- abused and neglected children
- victims of domestic violence
- difficulties associated with aging
- mentally and physically handicapped persons
In all areas of practice, the social worker serves as both a counselor and advocate for his/her clients. Working within the larger context of the client's family and community, the social worker seeks to intervene with those factors in the client's environment that contribute to poverty, racism, poor health, mental illness, or any other condition that interferes with persons reaching their potential as an individual, as a family, as a group, or as a community.
The bachelor of social work degree at Harding University prepares students for entry-level employment as generalist social work practitioners. The program addresses problem-solving processes that equip the beginning professional with the knowledge, values, and skills necessary for generalist practice with individuals, families, groups and communities. Liberal arts requirements complement the foundation and core courses in the major. Social work majors must complete a minimum of 60 hours of courses in human behavior, social policy, social work practice and research methods. Professional skills are further enhanced by a community practicum and field placement within a social service agency.
Application to the program is made after the completion of Social Work 275: Introduction to Social Work, usually during the sophomore year. All students are assigned an academic advisor within the social work program.
The last semester of the senior year is spent in a field placement in a social service agency. This experience is designed to assist students to develop practice skills through performance in settings typically served by social workers. Students can choose field placements from a number of social service agencies in close proximity to the university. Field placements range from hospitals, mental health centers, residential facilities for children and adolescents, teen pregnancy programs, and the Department of Human Services.
Social Work Club
Membership in the Social Work Club is open to all students enrolled in social work classes. The club meets approximately once a month at a time selected by students in their first meeting each semester. The setting of club goals or participation in special community or campus projects is the responsibility of club members. Full-time social work faculty serve as advisors for the club.
Participation in the club affords members the opportunity to develop leadership and group skills, and through planned programs and field trips to learn of practice experiences from social workers in a variety of settings. Club members plan periodic chapel programs including "Resident of the Month," a special "Blue Ribbon" honoring the differently abled students at the Sunshine School in Searcy.
National Social Work Honor Society
In April 1980, the Social Work Program was granted a charter for Beta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Delta Mu, the National Social Work Honor Society. The primary objective of this Honor Society is to recognize and encourage superior scholarship in Social Work Education and to advance excellence in social work practice.
Consistent with the national organization, the requirements for membership are as follows:
- Achieved junior or senior standing.
- Earned a minimum of 15 semester hours in Social Work Courses with a grade point average of 3.3.
- Achieved an overall grade point average of 3.0 or above.
- Been duly enrolled in an undergraduate Social Work or Welfare Program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Child Welfare Traineeship Program
The Harding University Social Work Program is a member of Partnerships in Public Child Welfare (PPCW). The PPCW consists of BSW programs in Arkansas committed to the recruitment and retention of professionals in the public child welfare arena.
Member schools in the PPCW receive Title IV-E grant money to accomplish its goals. This results in funds for equipment, faculty development, supplies and student stipends.
Students who participate in the Child Welfare Traineeship Program receive a $4,000 stipend and complete a field placement at the Division of Children and Family Services. Traineeship students must meet the following criteria:
- Complete SWK 399 (Child Welfare Service) and SWK 411 (Law and Social Work Practice) or SWK 395 (Child Abuse and Neglect).
- Apply for employment with DCFS prior to graduation.
- Accept employment with DCFS in one of three counties designated by the student. If employment is not offered by DCFS within two months following graduation, the Trainee's commitment is null and void.
Harding University's Social Work Program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education for the bachelor of social work degree. CSWE accreditation assures prospective students and employers that the program has met the minimum standards of undergraduate education as established by the Commission on Accreditation. Graduation from an accredited program could assist a student in gaining advanced standing in master of social work programs.