January 27, 2021 – In the continued context of the uncertainty in Schools of Social Work in Canada as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the CASWE-ACFTS Board of Directors (BOD) is issuing the following statement:
The CASWE-ACFTS BOD acknowledges the continued significant impact of COVID-19 on field education, and re-affirms the critical role played by field education professional staff and faculty towards maintaining the integrity, rigour, and success of social work education in Canada in preparing competent social work practitioners. When the pandemic began in March of 2020 the world did not foresee that this “crisis” would require such long-term intense labour for field co-ordinators across Canada. We acknowledge the toll this is taking on field teams across the country as they creatively endeavour to provide quality field placements in this context. Such extraordinary demands require financial and structural support for this ongoing work. We encourage Schools of Social Work across Canada to consider supporting their field teams in tangible ways. For example, for those field co-ordinators who carry a teaching load they may require teaching release. For some, hiring of additional staff to assist in identifying, recruiting and vetting new placement opportunities would be welcome to get through the current crisis. These would be short-term measures to assist in responding to an extraordinary, unique and evolving situation.
We acknowledge that universities face economic challenges at this time and we encourage each School to consider how they might be able to support their respective field teams. Furthermore, given that many Schools are currently planning placements for fall 2021/2022 the Board re-affirms that the reduction of hours may continue to be utilized at the discretion of Schools until April 2022. The Board encourages that whenever possible the higher standard in regards to hours be maintained. This discretion for Schools recognizes the varying intersectional impact of COVID-19 in communities across Canada.
We wish to thank the members of the Working Group on Field Education in the context of COVID-19: Suzanne Lacelle and Janice Chaplin (BOD representatives); Grant Charles and Ginette Berteau (COA representatives); Sarah Todd (Deans and Directors); Natalie Clark (Thunderbird Circle-ISWEN); Holly Bradley (FEC representative). Finally, we wish to thank Sharon Steinhauer and Jeanette Villeneuve from NIAB for their participation in this committee.
Approved by the Board of Directors January 26, 2021