The Department of Children and Families makes every effort to place students throughout the 14 Area Offices and Facilities. Considerations for placement are based on the skill level of the student and the availability of Field Supervisors in their area of interest.
Students pursuing a minimum of a Bachelor or Masters in social work or related field. The Department requires that there be an Affiliation Agreement with all participating schools which outlines the roles and responsibilities between the school and the department. Students must confirm with their Field Education Department or equivalent to confirm if an agreement is in place. Affiliation Agreements not currently in place must be initiated prior to the submission of Internship packet.
- Due to the significant level of interactions with children, families and professionals, students must possess good moral and professional conduct.
Once a student submits a thorough Inquiry (see link below) they can anticipate the following may occur:
- To have their inquiry sent to the Area Office or Facility selected
- To be contacted by the selected Area Office or Facility after the submission period (see below for "Internship Application" timeframes and deadlines.)
- To be contacted for an interview to discuss field placement expectations students must bring their Field Placement Manual, Learning Contract and resume to the interview
- To be provided with an Internship Packet from the Area Office /Facility once an interview has been scheduled and selected
- To complete fingerprinting and background checks at DCF Central Office prior to Orientation
- To attend a one day orientation once a field placement has been offered by the Area Office/Facility.
Roles and Responsibilities of the Student, Field Instructor and School
Expectations for student interns and their supervisors (a.k.a. "field instructors") differ between schools and programs (i.e. BSW or MSW). It is crucial that student interns and prospective field instructors follow the guidelines detailed in the field manual provided by the student's school. This section is intended as a general overview only.
The student is expected:
- to consult and obtain approval from Field Advisor prior to submitting inquiry to provide the name and telephone number of approving faculty advisor
- to understand and provide the field placement requirements of their academic institution as requested
- to thoroughly complete the on-line inquiry form (incomplete inquiries will not be considered) to complete the internship paperwork within the timeframe provided
- to complete a learning contract according to the guidelines of their academic institution
- to provide Field Instructor with class syllabus to assist in the identification of relevant activities
- to participate in supervision throughout his/her placement
- to maintain professional code of conduct at all times during the course of the field placement, including but not limited to: NASW standards, DCF policy standards, attendance and punctuality.
- to provide the student with activities that meet the students learning objectives as outlined on the learning contract and class syllabus
- to review the student's Field Manual including clearly stated expectations of the student and the field instructor
- to provide regular, protected supervision time throughout his/her placement (minimum 2 hours per week early in the placement and a minimum of 1 hour per week towards the end)
- to designate a back-up Field Instructor and provide all contact information to the student
to maintain regular contact with the student's Field Advisor; more frequently if problems arise with the placement
- to maintain regular contact with the Area Office Internship Liaison to be SIFI certified, if required for placement of student
- to assign the student a Field Advisor
- to approve the prospective placement prior to the student completing the inquiry process
- to provide the student and field advisor with a Field Placement Manual or detailed outline of clearly stated expectations for placement
- to maintain regular contact with both the student and Field Instructor, including office visits and phone contact
- to be available to both the student and field advisor for mediation if necessary
There is some variation to this expectation, especially between undergraduate students and graduate students. Students should consult with their respective Field Placement Office or Manual
What type of learning opportunities should the student have?
The internship in the area office provides a wealth of opportunities for the students to gain considerable knowledge in the area of protective services. Students will have the opportunity to observe and practice case management, intervention skills, as well as understand the assessment process through the various facets of the department that include but not limited to:
- In-Home Services
- Out-of-Home Services
- Voluntary Services
- Mental Health Services
- Adolescent Services
- Permanency Service
- Foster Care and Adoption Services (FASU)
In addition, there are internships available that provide students with administrative and direct clinical opportunities located within various departments of DCF, including placement with Juvenile Justice, Adolescent Services, Performance Management (aka Results Based Accountability), Education (USD 2), Health and Wellness, Clinical and Community Consultation and Support Team, Solnit – North & South Campuses and the Legislative division. To start, all student interns who have not been employed by the Department of Children and Families should receive an orientation to the Department. Within that orientation, the student should learn about the agency's mission, structure, programs and policies. Furthermore, the student should tour DCF facilities and attend court hearings, including (if possible) trials for termination of parental rights. Assignments should afford students the opportunity to:
- have responsibility for work tasks, i.e. to lead a group rather than observe; to staff a committee rather than membership on the committee;
- have ongoing (weekly) face to face contact with the client system throughout the school year; record practice encounters in an appropriate form (log, journal, process, etc.) for use in supervision and for development of professional self-awareness.
- work with clients who represent socio-cultural, racial, ethnic, age and/or gender differences;
- form and maintain purposeful professional relationships with clients within context of the agency mission and expressed need of the clients.
Work assignments should be based on the student's learning objectives. Many programs include different expectations for students' first year and second year placements. Most programs expect students to be given broad range of assignments in their first year so that they receive a generalist education. Likewise, most programs expect that students will receive advanced assignments matching their concentration or major for their second year placement. Student experiences wilt differ depending upon their degree program and preparation to work in the field of child welfare, so please refer to the student's field manual for an accurate and specific overview of the relevant expectations. Students with a clinical focus will find relevant activities in the Department's Facilities. In all cases, students will work under close supervision and will not be assigned to work on cases independently in LINK. While the goal is to ensure that interns have meaningful learning opportunities, the assigned DCF staff has responsibility for all work provided on behalf of case participants. Some general practice assignments for the student's include but are not limited to:
- Provide direct service(s)to one or more clients. For example:
- Supervise weekly family visits and provide a specified intervention (i.e. assistance to a parent in regard to the development of identified parenting skills);
- Work with children, parents and foster parents in developing lifebooks;
- Perform psychosocial histories;
- Complete application for services on behalf of clients (i.e. Wilderness School application procedures- written application, interview and orientation with client)
- Assist clients with application for services
- Provide mentoring services to adolescent clients
- Provide transportation to assist clients in meeting case plan expectations
- Assist in trial preparation, such as the of service and/or visitation logs.
- Document client progress of meeting case plan goals
- Attend and participate in case planning meetings (i.e. Quality Improvement Teams, Case Planning Conferences, Administrative Case Reviews, Permanency Planning Team meetings or Family Conferences; Permanency Teaming, and Child and Family Teaming Meetings
- Conduct a case assessment and develop, in writing, intervention plans for this case.
- Organize an agency-based program (i.e. A foster parent recruitment or recognition program)
- Analysis of a policy problem; develop and compare a set of policy alternatives; determine a viable goal for a policy practice activity.
- Organize, lead and evaluate work groups (i.e. Foster and Adoptive Parents Support Groups)
- Advanced Year Casework Majors should receive assignments similar to the Foundation year assignments, but it is necessary that students provide direct service to clients throughout the school year.
- Advanced Year Group Work Majors must provide social group work services to different kinds of groups over an academic year. It is expected that students devote a minimum of 5 contact hours per week to direct practice with groups. Students must lead a group solo, but can also have co-leading opportunities. In addition, students can play the role of an advisor, convener, discussion leader, trainer or Instructor. Students must also be afforded time as needed for individualized contacts, home visits, consultation, team conferences and referrals.
- Advanced Year Community Organization Majors should receive assignments working with a community or agency group, committee or task force. A good assignment would be for the student to be given a job of organizing and staffing a group around a particular community task. A student could staff an existing group or do the leg work for setting the scene for organizing a task force or committee.
- Advanced Year Policy and Planning Majors should receive assignments working directly with agency policy. This can include grant writing, program and project budgeting, program development, sophisticated policy analysis, program evaluation, strategic planning, involving clients and consumers in the policy and planning process, advocacy and lobbying.
- Advanced Year Administration Majors are expected to gain knowledge and skills in the major administrative functions. Some assignments might include work with any facet of planning associated with the agency, including assessment of need for a specific program, development of a grant proposal, strategic planning, formalizing a program plan, manual preparation and participation in the budgeting process. Students may also serve as a consultant to a committee or staff a committee, or serve as liaison between agency and other service elivery systems. They may also organize and implement an In-service training program, provide staff or program evaluation, organize and direct staff resources, develop a new service, maintain records and reports, work with policy, proposal development and implementation, or develop and use of procedures to provide structure for program implementation.
The online internship inquiry form should be completed according to the academic semester you are applying for, and you MUST specify which semester(s) you are applying for.
- Spring: Inquiries will be accepted from October 1st until December 15th
- Summer: Inquiries will be accepted from January 15th until March 15th
- Fall: Inquiries will be accepted from March 1st until May 15th
Click here to access the online inquiry form