Missions and Values
What We Stand For
The mission of the WKU Department of Social Work is to prepare competent, ethical, anti-oppressive social work professionals for practice with diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities thereby improving quality of life in the region and beyond.
The mission of the MSW program at Western Kentucky University is to prepare students for advanced professional Social Work practice to meet the needs of increasingly diverse rural populations in the community, in Kentucky and in a global society.
The mission of the BSW Program at Western Kentucky University is to prepare culturally competent professionals who practice with diverse communities and client systems.
Help people in need and address social problems
Social workers elevate service to others above self-interest. Social workers draw on their knowledge, values, and skills to help people in need and to address social problems. Social workers are encouraged to volunteer some portion of their professional skills with no expectation of significant financial return (pro bono service).
Challenge social injustice
Social workers pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people. Social workers’ social change efforts are focused primarily on issues of poverty, unemployment, discrimination, and other forms of social injustice. These activities seek to promote sensitivity to and knowledge about oppression and cultural and ethnic diversity. Social workers strive to ensure access to needed information, services, and resources; equality of opportunity; and meaningful participation in decision making for all people.
Respect the inherent dignity and worth of the person
Social workers treat each person in a caring and respectful fashion, mindful of individual differences and cultural/ethnic diversity. Social workers promote clients’ socially responsible self-determination. Social workers seek to enhance clients’ capacity and opportunity to change and to address their own needs. Social workers are cognizant of their dual responsibility to clients and to the broader society. They seek to resolve conflicts between clients’ interests and the broader society’s interests in a socially responsible manner consistent with the values, ethical principles, and ethical standards of the profession.
Professional Social Workers operate under a set of social work values and ethics found in the National Association of Social Worker's Code of Ethics (NASW, 2021). Social work values include service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence, and these values shape the ethical principles forming the basis of our work.
Social work department faculty and staff have determined that we have three additional values important to our unique contexts: anti-racism; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and student-centered practice. Each of these guide our department and our programs as we educate students within both university and community settings that have unique perspectives and strengths. Periodically, the Department will refine their beliefs through the use of statements, and you will find several of those statements below.
The WKU Social Work Department stands with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and others to denounce the March 16th attack in Atlanta and the increase in anti-Asian hate crimes over the past year. Learn more about these crimes from the Asian American Psychological Association, the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, the Pew Research Center, and the American College Health Association. The College Heights Herald ran an article in May 2020 regarding this issue, and the violence has continued to escalate. This is of deep concern, and the social work community must not stand by as silent observers. We must intervene. We are trained to fight against injustice, and we are committed to advocating with and for others in this fight. The targeting of APIDA (Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi American) communities is symptomatic of a much larger systemic problem of racism in America. This can only be addressed through championing change. The Social Work Joint Statement on Anti-Asian Violence and Racism statement includes 13 concrete ways in which we, as social work professionals, can intervene. Speak out when you see racist systems. Work to reform or dismantle discriminatory systems. Further, people who support racism and perpetuate discrimination must be held to account. As allies, we must educate ourselves and each other about antiracist social work practice. It is not enough to be culturally aware. We must be antiracist. Silence and inaction are not options. We must use the tools at our disposal such as reporting bias, discrimination or hate on our campus community to protect those experiencing oppression and violence. Below, you will find local campus resources below where you can report those incidents. Organizations that are working to advance social justice for Asian Americans are listed under the national resources heading.
Asian American Psychological Association
Asian Americans Advancing Justice
Anti-Asian Hate Safety Resources
Stop Asian and Pacific Island Hate
It is easy to feel powerless as we watch events like these play out. Yet, we do have personal power. We can speak out and advocate for change. Emails, letters, and phone calls to our elected officials can make a difference and influence their votes. We can join peaceful protests to let our communities know that we will not tolerate misinformation and hateful rhetoric and behaviors – and that we are committed to an America that values the common good and celebrates its diversity – not vilifies it.
Particularly in the midst of a crisis, we need to be vigilant in verifying the accuracy of information. We cannot rely on social media as our sole news source and must resist sharing information that has not been verified as accurate. Remember that we reflect and build the society we want with every tweet, post, and comment we make.
Take care of yourselves. WKU students have access to low cost and free counseling and support services at WKU. The WKU Counseling Center has several ideas about coping during crisis. Go here to read more about these ideas. WKU recently launched the My Mental Health #WKU Blackboard site. Students can self-enroll, complete a screening, and learn coping strategies for anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Take advantage of every opportunity for self-care and support.
We are living in tumultuous times. We must choose to fight. We should not and cannot remain silent. We have an opportunity to participate in building a more just FUTURE! WE CAN DO THIS! WE MUST!
WKU Social Work Administration
Dr. Patricia Desrosiers, Dr. Saundra Starks, Dr. Simon Funge, Dr. April Murphy, and Kellye McIntyre, MSW
Today's verdict of guilty on all charges in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd and the televised trial over the last number of days brings up so many emotions—even if it was the verdict for which you were hoping. I hope that you are able to take a few moments to process this verdict and your own reactions to it and create spaces for other to do the same.
In the 11 months since George Floyd died, the topics of police brutality and social justice have been front and center for many of us as well as our programs, colleges, and communities. Rightly so. If you would like to connect with social workers and educators to talk about today’s verdict and the months (and years) of trying to address racism, CSWE offers a free platform, CSWE Spark, for you to connect and discuss social justice among other topics and share resources to advance this discussion in the classroom.
We have the ability to change our curricula and our programs, and this is a powerful way to dismantle racism in our own “backyard.” I want to again thank the members of the CSWE Task Force to Advance Anti-Racism in Social Work Education for helping us identify things that need to change and ways to make those changes happen. These volunteers have spent the past several months organizing and condensing more than 150 distinct recommendations into clear guidance for social work education to become actively anti-racist. We anticipate that their initial action plan will be finalized and released in the coming weeks.
CSWE again wishes to express its deepest sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of George Floyd. His murder, in combination with too many other African Americans in the past year alone, has continued to demonstrate the need to address enduring racism in this country and its deadly effects.
Please let us know if there is any way for CSWE to further support you.
Darla Spence Coffey
CSWE President & CEO
Understandably, in light of the recent COVID-19 Pandemic, some of you might be concerned about the potential impact on you, your families, and your college experience. I want you all to know that we value you. As educators, we are here to support our students. As social workers, we are committed to self-determination and we want to help you graduate on time with the skills you need to be an effective social worker. This demonstrates our commitment to you and the to the principle of social justice. If you graduate on time with the skills you need, not only will you be well served, but also your future clients will be.
Because of COVID-19 social distancing requirements, in consultation with WKU administration, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the Kentucky Board of Social Work (BSW), and the Kentucky Association of Social Work Educators (KASWE), the department has done the following to support students, faculty, and staff:
Temporarily moved all coursework online with much support to students and instructors. See resources for WKU students below.
Temporarily required field to be completed via virtual activities. See detailed message from Field Director McIntyre below.
Temporarily required all faculty and staff to work from home. You may contact them
via email and phone, but please be patient with response times. Many have young children
currently at home due to school closures.
Shared resources and information with students, staff, and faculty as clearly and quickly as possible.
Extended BSW (May 15-details found below) and MSW (May 1) program application due dates.
Please let us know if you have questions about any of these temporary changes. All have been communicated via email; however, there has been a lot of information shared in the past two weeks. Please take advantage of all of the resources available to you as needed during this pandemic event.
Click here for a VIDEO MESSAGE for students from Dr. Desrosiers, Department Head of Social Work.
Council on Social Work Education Accreditation Updates
CSWE and Commission on Accreditation Statement
March 25, 2020, Alexandria, Va.
The following statement is being shared with you in advance of a full statement from CSWE that is coming later today:
The safety of students, educators, social workers, and their clients and communities are paramount to the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and its Council on Accreditation (COA). In response to the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are committed to supporting social work education programs as follows:
1. Student safety. AS 2.2.7 requires that field education programs specify policies for supporting student safety in field. Programs are encouraged to safeguard student safety during the COVID-19 pandemic to the greatest extent possible, including suspending or delaying field education placements when necessary for student safety.
2. Reduction in field hours. Under AS 2.2.5, field education programs provide a minimum
of 400 hours of field education for baccalaureate programs and a minimum of 900 hours
for master’s programs. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, students who have
completed 85% of the required placement hours (i.e., 340 hours for baccalaureate programs
and 765 hours for master’s programs) to a satisfactory level may, at program discretion,
be evaluated as having met the field placement requirements. This option for reduced
hours is for students whose field
completion dates occur by December 31, 2020. Students whose field placement completion dates occur after December 31, 2020 will be expected to complete the full 400 or 900 hours in compliance with AS 2.2.5. Remote field activity, as well as field supervision and field seminar hours, may be counted toward the accrual of field hours.
3. Remote field activity. Although AS 2.2.4 requires field education through “in-person
contact,” the Commission on Accreditation will broaden its interpretation to include
remote-based field activity. Remote field activity can include engagement such as
field related assignments, trainings, and virtual meetings. Client-related virtual
should be in accordance with field site policies for secure communications.
4. Candidacy or reaffirmation materials that are due in spring or summer 2020. Extensions will be granted for programs whose submission of materials has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. If your program needs an extension, please request an extension by email to MKurfess@cswe.org and copy your accreditation specialist. Please include a brief description of the program’s situation. The accreditation specialist will respond with the approved extension date.
5. Program site visits. Reaffirmation and candidacy site visits will be conducted through virtual meetings, instead of on-site meetings, through December 31, 2020. The virtual meeting directive may be extended as the COVID-19 situation warrants.
6. Assessment. Programs are encouraged to continue with their assessment plans to the extent possible. The Commission on Accreditation recognizes that assessment outcomes will likely be impacted by disruptions to class instruction and field. Programs who are in the process of reporting assessment outcomes as part of their candidacy or reaffirmation self-studies are encouraged to provide context relative to the impact of COVID-19. Programs may also address the impact of COVID-19 in implications for program renewal and program changes explicit curriculum assessment and implicit curriculum assessment.
We recognize these are extraordinary times and we will remain vigilant in supporting social work education programs and providing additional guidance as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold.
Deana F. Morrow, PhD, LICSW, ACSW
Chair, CSWE Commission on Accreditation
Mary Deffley Kurfess, MSSW, LCSW-C
Director, CSWE Department of Accreditation
Department of Social Work Accreditation Team:
Sheila Bell, Site Visit Coordinator
Katie Benson, MSW, Accreditation Specialist
Marilyn Gentner, LMSW, LICSW, Accreditation Specialist
Katie “Kat” Gibson-Ledl, LLMSW-Macro, Accreditation Specialist
Anna Holster, MSW, MPhil, Accreditation Specialist
Spencer Middleton, MSW, Accreditation Specialist
Monica Wylie, Department Manager / Director’s Assistant
Sexual assault severely undermines the safety and well-being of women in our community. Significantly, sexual assault not only traumatizes the victim but even allegations of assault may cause vicarious trauma to those who have previously been victimized or fear being victimized.
As social workers, we must do more to eliminate this scourge in our communities. More than 1 in 3 women experience sexual violence in their lifetimes. The CDC describe the scope of the problem, and we encourage each of you to become knowledgeable about these statistics.
With reports of sexual assault, many may feel anxious, upset, or vulnerable as they hear a recounting of the trauma, and many of those serving as supportive significant others may also need assistance. Together we can offer acknowledgment of the impact of sexual violence.
As social workers, we understand the importance of speaking out and taking social action to challenge injustice. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) advocates active participation in Sexual Assault Awareness month, and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center offers specific assistance if you would like to participate. Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) has a very active policy agenda. The RAINN Policy Action Center provides up-to-date information on proposed national and state legislation surrounding sexual assault as well as ways to contact legislators directly. Actions such speaking up when vulnerable people are being silenced, contacting your legislators, and voting are demonstrations of your personal power. It is particularly important that men ally against sexual assault, an issue that has typically been understood as a “women’s issue.” Working together, we can challenge the status quo through educating the public and building resiliency.
When a sexual assault impacts our community, the importance of self-care w cannot be underplayed. Whether you are coping directly with negative impacts related to this or you are supporting someone who is, you must take steps to care for the well-being of yourself and others. This can be as simple as taking breaks from social media and news or as complex as seeking help. RAINN has some suggestions about this as does the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). Together we can encourage each other to be supportive and understanding of the stress of others.
If you would like to be part of the solution, go to the WKU Sexual Assault Prevention Month page to view and register for events that will be held throughout April to bring awareness and healing to those impacted by sexual assault. The following is a list of campus and community resources that are available to anyone seeking assistance related to sexual violence.
Please forward this message as needed to support sexual assault victims in order that they may get the support they need. Please offer your support to those in need. Please educate those that don’t understand the facts. Please support your friends and family. Together we can offer care to those in need.
The WKU Department of Social Work stands with the social work profession in condemning the seditious attempt of insurrectionists to disrupt our democracy on January 6th at our nation’s capital. NASW strongly condemns the pro-Trump riots at the U.S. Capital (Jan. 6, 2021).
America is a deeply fractured society.
Wednesday’s attempted coup was the culmination of years of misinformation and polarizing rhetoric that has actively sought to delegitimize the important role of the public sector in addressing social need, the value of public service, and the importance of a shared common good.
This was not patriotism.
We condemn these acts because they are in direct opposition to the very values we uphold Integrity, social justice, and the importance of human relationships are fundamental to social work, and should drive our discourse and our actions – not just as professional social workers, but as Americans.
Glaringly, this was not revealed in the disproportionate and slow under-response to the predominately white insurrectionists storming the capitol building. The response was in stark contrast to last year’s violent overreactions to Black, brown, and other peaceful protestors who were legitimately calling for racial justice and police reform.
DO NOT leave this fight to your APIDA communities who are experiencing collective trauma and the emotional toll of this unjust system. We call on all social workers to actively promote social work allyship to disrupt all forms of anti-Asian racism wherever it occurs and continually work toward creating hope and healing spaces across APIDA communities, U.S. societies, and around the globe. We urge all social workers to actively practice social work leadership to stand at the forefront of an era of accountability and solidarity.
Yours in solidarity,
The WKU Social Work Administrative Team
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