New social work programs fill needs

Photo Courtesy Of Liza Arellano

The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program at California Baptist University launched in fall 2021 as an entry-level degree to work in the field of social work.

Liza Arellano, licensed clinical social worker, assistant professor of social work and program director of the Bachelor of Social Work, said the program allows students to gain experience across all levels of social work practice.

“Students can work with individuals, families, groups, communities, advocacy and all kinds of different areas,” Arellano said. “Our program at CBU is designed to meet the needs of the Inland Empire. Right now social workers are in high demand in medical and child welfare settings. Our field is broad, so our program is designed for students to work across broad settings.”

The BSW program is also unique in that it is an accredited degree by the Council on Social Work and Education. This means that if students complete this degree, they can go on to get a master’s degree in social work in one year. This program works alongside the master’s in social work (MSW) and Doctorate in Social Work programs to prepare students while at CBU.

Dr. Charles Lee-Johnson, associate professor of social work and department chair for social work, is excited about what the BSW program brings to CBU and how it connects to the Core Four.

“This is probably one of the most exciting things that are happening at California Baptist University in the middle that is going on,” Lee-Johnson said. “I cannot think of anything greater. When you think of the Core Four at CBU — that we want people to be academically prepared, biblically rooted, equipped to serve and globally-minded – I feel like we are capturing all of that in the BSW degree. We have been given a unique skill set to go out and serve as Jesus did, within our community.”

The program also offers students the opportunity to be paired  with a mentor who is either faculty or an MSW student to help support and encourage them. Additionally, there are Bible studies and community engagement groups, culture justice and lecture series to enrich student experiences that other universities do not offer.

“This is a program designed to be completed as upper-division course work in their junior and senior year,” Arellano said. “In their senior year students complete a field practicum placement where they get a certain number of hours. For students who are not sure what area they want to go in or maybe they do not have a lot of work experience, this provides on-the-job training and experience to be able to use on your resume.”

The program offers specialized classes that differentiate it from other universities, such as congregational social work, medical social work, policy and marginalized populations. The goal of the course list is to offer some broad framework-type classes to prepare students to work across all settings.

“There is a place for everyone, of every talent and background, in social work,” Lee-Johnson said. “There is not a place you are going to go where you are not serving people.”

A great advantage to students transitioning from the BSW program to the MSW program is the transfer process of field practicum hours. The hours done as a senior in the BSW program are transferred over and allow incoming students to enter as sophomores in the MSW program.

“The program has been great,” said Cassandra Bozarth, junior social work major. “I like that all of the classes. They are very engaging, and all of my professors have been kind, knowledgeable and helpful.”

Bozarth was originally a psychology major but decided to change to social work after learning more about the program.

“I want to help influence positive change in society, help at-risk populations and fight for social justice,” Bozarth said. “When I heard about the social work program, it had all the things I was looking for and that they have an advanced standing program, so after your BSW, you can move on to get your MSW in only one year. I truly believe this program is helping me to be fully equipped and ready for my MSW.”

The BSW program also has a unique collaboration with the Nursing Department for the Interprofessional Education (IPE) aspect that students are enrolled in. This program allows nursing, physician’s assistance, athletic training and social work to come together to approach how they might collaborate in different settings. The IPE setting prepares them to work with other professionals and learn how to meet client’s needs using different resources. 

For students interested in the Bachelor of Social Work program, there are regular informational sessions advertised on the program’s Instagram @cbu_cbss. Students can also find more information at https://calbaptist.edu/programs/bachelor-of-social-work/.

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