From Social Worker to Social Worker: MSW Mentorship Outcomes

Jessica Nestelroad, Wendy Ashley


Students returning to graduate school after years in the workforce face multiple challenges, including reviving dormant academic skills, juggling multiple roles and role alterations, and navigating academic structures and procedures. Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Children’s Social Workers (CSW’s) returning to school to obtain a Masters in Social Work (MSW) degree face additional unique challenges, including graduate level writing expectations, learning to be a professional social worker as dictated by the standards of the discipline, and making a paradigm shift from social work employee to social work student. A mentoring project was developed to assist students employed as CSW’s in successfully transitioning from employee to MSW student, and aimed to strengthen the public child welfare employee students to ensure that they are better equipped to successfully achieve their MSW, develop strategies to effectively integrate their skills into the DCFS system following graduation and ultimately increase proficiency to effectively serve vulnerable children and families. The purpose of this research study is to explore how the implementation of a mentorship program for CSW’s obtaining an MSW contributed to professional success post-graduation, when social workers returned to their positions with DCFS. This qualitative study was developed using detailed oral interviews with five participants. This research reveals mentorship programs can be both personally and professionally successful, identifying needs germane to this population of students and suggesting a specialized approach to educating current CSW’s to cultivate the skills essential for effective social work practice.

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International Research in Higher Education  ISSN 2380-9183 (Print)  ISSN 2380-9205 (Online)

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