Developed as a response to the initiative of resettled communities and UNP community partners, the College of Social Work’s Case Management Certificate program continues its commitment to community-driven pathways to education.
In 2011, across the UNP partnerships, there were several opportunities emerging and growing requests by community leaders of immigrant and refugee background for more education and employment pathways. At that time, many individuals of immigrant and refugee backgrounds were beginning to get employment with agencies as case managers; however, the majority of these individuals did not have previous case management experience and many were not afforded access to higher education in their countries of origin. At the same time, many new arriving communities were also developing community-based associations, (i.e., the Somali Community Self-Management Agency, Karen Community of Utah and others). These groups also found themselves doing case management-like work within their own communities and they were eager to learn how to better navigate systems and access resources. With their rich linguistic and cultural skills, these new arriving bridge workers were emerging as the new community-based social service workforce connecting communities of diverse backgrounds to formal systems. While these men and women came with valuable life experiences and on the job trainings, the community members and agency leaders began meeting with UNP and asking for more.
Through support from the Bennion Center’s Public Service Professorship, we moved forward to put together a team of social work faculty and community representatives who conducted a series of interviews and conversations with stakeholder groups. The findings of this study were shared with community and agency partners who then selected representatives to serve on a curriculum steering committee and assist the team with developing the curriculum. The result was four eight-week long courses that make up the Case Management Certificate program. With support from UNP and a Capital City Education, the first cohort of 25 students were enrolled in fall 2013.
The full track of four Case Management courses takes nine months, at the end of which students receive a college-level certificate from the University of Utah’s College of Social Work. Students apply to the College of Social Work as continuing education students, receiving University IDs and gaining access to the University systems.
In 2014, the program went global! From what began as a request from west side community partners, the Case Management Certificate program is now offered online with international partners and students in five different countries. Similar to its west side beginnings, global partners were experiencing many of the same challenges as their Salt Lake counterparts. International partners were working to support communities in forced migration and living at the margins with little access to education resources. Now in its sixth year, the 55 online students who are living in Uganda, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, and Pakistan join the west side cohort to complete the nine-month certificate program and join the over 100 graduates in Salt Lake and around the world. Perhaps the value of this program is best described by a graduate of the course.
“Looking back nine months of social work study seems very short despite my often (or all the time) struggles to meet deadline submissions and quite often submitting my assignments late. I have learned so much from this course. Thank you for being very generous to us. This social work program means a lot to me, …and to the whole of Myanmar. One thing I am most grateful for is how this course has changed my understanding about social work. I often associated social work with giving and supplying material aids, financial help to people who need them which is maybe partly true in some cases. But the most important point for me in social work is about discovering my strengths. It is all about working with others to discover the “geniuses and brilliances” we have in us. It is all about how far and how deep can we go with what we have.”
~ Michael, Case Management Graduate
Content provided by Rosemarie Hunter.