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Office of Field Education!

Nelda M. Rodriguez, LMSW

Phone: 956-665-3190

Cynthia Cisneros, Program Specialist

Phone: 956-665-3578

Field Partners

The Office of Field Education has over two hundred affiliated social service agencies within the lower Rio Grande Valley, out-of-area, and out-of-state. Approximately 50% of field agency sites are generalist and 50% of field agency sites provide opportunities for students in specialized practice.  Any agency/ organization that adheres to and supports the UTRGV School of Social Work mission of achieving social, racial, economic, and political justice and is in alignment with the values and ethics of the social work profession can apply to affiliate with the UTRGV School of Social Work.  

Specific policies, criteria, and procedures for selecting field settings:  

  • The Office of Field Education, a student, or an agency representative can initiate the affiliation process.  
  • The Director of Field Education and/or Field Office staff will conduct an initial phone screening, email and/or an agency visit  
  • The agency site is expected to offer sufficient and appropriate direct practice learning opportunities which address the CSWE nine core competencies and adhere to the requirements of the UTRGV School of Social Work. 
  • The Director of Field Education or Field Coordinator determines whether the agency meets the UTRGV School of Social Work standards of practice.  
  • Field Instructors submit a Resume 
  • Field instructors complete a BSW/MSSW Field Instructor Data Sheet.  
  • If there is not a social worker with a minimum of two years of practice experience and    graduated from an accredited MSW program is not available to provide supervision at a field site, another master-level field instructor with at least two years of post-graduate experience is secured whether it be within another department of the agency site or works in the community.  
 Arrangements for all field placements are completed through the Office of Field Education. The Director of Field Education or Field Coordinator is the final authority on approval of a field placement agency. Field placements are made only with the agencies that are formally affiliated with the UTRGV School of Social Work.

Agency Criteria

The following policies and procedures may be found in the MSSW Field Student Handbook.

  • Adhere to the values and ethics of the social work profession.
  • Adhere to and support the mission and vision of the UTRGV School of Social Work.
  • Provide learning tasks and opportunities to help develop social work knowledge, skills, and experience.
  • Offer varied experiences with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
  • Offer a qualified Field Instructor who can provide weekly supervision to the student.
  • Opportunities for the student to attend professional development training.
  • Adequate resources to complete the learning objectives.
  • Support and agree to the UTRGV School of Social Work. Anti-Discrimination Policy.
  • For generalist students: the opportunity for a student to have a broad range of learning opportunities, including opportunities to interact with all system levels (individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations).
  • For Community Practice & Administration students: the opportunity to receive varied experiences in program development, community practice, and advocacy and interaction primarily with groups, communities, and organizations.
  • For Direct Practice students: the opportunity to have at least 50% of student time spent in direct contact with individuals, families, and groups.

Procedures and policies for placing and monitoring students are the same in both the generalist and specialized areas of practice.

In assigning field placements, the geographic location of the agency is considered along with the student’s interests, long-term professional goals, and previous experiences along with the Office of Field Education’s broad knowledge of agency resources. The generalist field placement is completed in two practica (Generalist Practicum I and Generalist Practicum II) and reflects the objectives of the generalist curriculum and the mission and goals of the UTRGV School of Social Work. The field agencies must provide opportunities for students to demonstrate skills at all levels of social work practice. The generalist placement process includes the following:

  • The Director of Field Education or Field Coordinators meets with the MSSW Director and Director of Accelerated Online and Distance Learning to identify students that are ready for field practica.
  • Students identified as ready for field are invited to attend a mandatory Field Preparation Meeting where they are provided information about the field placement process and field expectations.
  • Students complete the MSSW Field Application provided by the field staff during the field preparation meeting.
  • Students are provided a field preparation packet which includes the Faculty Advising Form, Field Preparation Process Flowchart, Partners in Field Roles and Responsibilities, Student Health Insurance information, Tevera tracking system, and criminal background check form.
  • Students meet with their assigned faculty adviser to complete the Faculty Advising Form. The faculty adviser will review with the student their academic standing and clear the student for field practicum.
  • The student submits the completed Faculty Advising Form to the field office.
  • Students are scheduled for an individual meeting with designated field office staff to make an initial match based on student interest, agency availability, geographic location, and experience.
  • Students contact mutually agreed upon agency sites to interview for a field placement opportunity.
  • If an interview is required, students are expected to approach it professionally in behavior and dress, arriving promptly and prepared. An interview does not guarantee placement, and if for some reason the student is not selected by the agency site, the student will be matched with another field site.
  • Students extended an offer for field practicum will complete the Understanding of Field Placement Agreement form along with the agency site representative confirming placement retention.
  • No student will be offered a site if they are unable to fulfill the site’s prerequisites such as specific background checks, drug testing, training, and vaccination.
  • The student submits the completed and signed Understanding of Field Placement Agreement form to the field education staff.
  • Once the student has been offered and accepted in a placement, they may not accept a competing offer from another agency.
  • Throughout the process, students are expected to maintain contact with the field office.
  • Students are assigned a faculty field liaison who has an MSW from a CSWE-accredited school and who will be responsible for coordinating, monitoring, and evaluating the field education experience and ensuring that optimal learning and professional development are obtained. The field liaison will visit with the field instructor two or three times during the semester to identify areas of the student’s personal and professional growth and be a support to the agency’s field instructor and/or task supervisor. The field instructor assigns responsibilities to the student according to the requirements of the UTRGV School of Social Work and the educational and experiential level of the student. The student, field instructor, and field liaison (who is also the student’s Seminar instructor) all participate in the evaluation of the student’s work. The faculty field liaison is responsible for assigning the student’s grade for fieldwork (pass/fail).
  • Students attend a field orientation prior to the start of the semester that includes information on professionalism, ethics, safety, supervision, roles and responsibilities, and completion of the Educational Agreement & Evaluation Form.