Field education


“Social work covers such a broad spectrum. The variety is truly staggering. So much of what we do has to be seen. Through their field experiences, I see students every day becoming more comfortable with themselves as practitioners, more confident in their skills, and I see their eyes open to all of these avenues for them to explore.”

– Joe Craig, field instructor and program coordinator, The Mill House, Community Brain Injury Services

Committing to the experience

For nearly a century, the School of Social Work has built our identity around the strong community ties that shaped our earliest years. Our centralized field education office helps to keep those bonds strong by reaching out to new organizations, training field instructors and facilitating educational opportunities at home and abroad, making it a model for social work field education in the 21st century.

With more than 500 community partners throughout Richmond, the state and beyond, we expose our students to a wide range of social work perspectives, environments and communities that can sharpen their skills as practitioners and help them find the right fit for those skills. Our partners include:

  • The Daily Planet Inc., a private non-profit with a mission is to provide integrated quality health services to those at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Services include Safe Haven, a residential program placing 20 seriously mentally ill homeless individuals in a safe and supportive environment.
  • Hunter Holmes McGuire Veteran Affairs Medical Center, which serves more than 200,000 veterans coming from 52 cities and counties. Service areas include substance abuse, geriatric, extended care, mental health, suicide prevention and homelessness.
  • ROSMY, which provides support, education, advocacy and opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth ages 11 to 20. The program provides weekly support groups, a 24/7 youth support hotline, youth leadership training and community outreach and education.
  • United Methodist Family Services, which serves emotionally and behaviorally challenged children. The agency offers a network of innovative services including 24-hour intensive treatment, treatment foster care, adoption, in-home family services, school based services and a variety of support services for at-risk children and their families.
  • Commonwealth Catholic Charities, an organization with programs including therapeutic foster care, home care, mental health counseling, domestic violence services, homeless services, refugee assistance, and emergency services.

Whether they serve with state agencies, assisted-living facilities, community housing organizations or social advocacy groups, our students don’t simply observe social workers in action. They put their passion to use, try the techniques they learn in the classroom in a real-life setting and experience the everyday demands and rewards of social work.

Through this blend of classroom and hands-on experience, our students develop a deep commitment to the profession’s ethical underpinning, which recognizes each individual’s implicit worth and dignity. They also develop the skills needed to understand and evaluate their professional experiences.

No two days in this profession are the same, and yet each experience informs how social workers approach the next. By taking the time to reflect upon these encounters, and by developing the tools for meaningful self-reflection, our students commit not only to best practices, but to the ongoing development of themselves as professionals.

Dates to keep in mind

2014-15 dates to keep in mind

These key dates affect field education placement. Policies regarding field hours, holidays and inclement weather are included in the Field Manual.

Spring 2015

Week of Jan. 12
Field placement begins/continues

Feb. 9
Richmond Field Fair Day*
10 a.m.-noon, University Student Commons, Commonwealth Ballrooms and James River Terrace
*Required for M.S.W. students entering concentration field placement in fall 2015

Feb. 17
Summer 2015 field applications due for all B.S.W. juniors and M.S.W. foundation and concentration students

Feb. 24
Fall 2015 field applications due for all B.S.W. seniors and M.S.W. concentration students

March 2-8
Mid-semester Evaluations due (Verbal)

March 9-13
Spring Break Holiday

April 15
Field orientation*
Noon-1 p.m., location TBD
*Required for B.S.W. students beginning placement in summer 2015

April 24
Spring semester evaluations due to field liaisons

May 1
Last day of field instruction

*The School of Social Work Field calendar does not mirror the VCU holiday calendar. Any hours missed outside of those listed as a holiday on this calendar must be made up by the student.

Summer 2015

May 4

M.S.W. Field instruction begins for concentration block students, SLWK 795 only

May 11

M.S.W. Field instruction begins for foundation block students, SLWK 695, and students taking SLWK 693, 694, 793, 794

May 25

Memorial Day – No field

May 26

Field instruction begins for B.S.W. junior and M.S.W. Advanced standing format

June 22-26

Midterm evaluations due (Verbal)

July 3

Independence Day observed - No field

July 24

Field evaluations due

July 31

Last day of field instruction B.S.W., foundation block, advance standing and M.S.W. concurrent placements

Aug 7

Last day of field instruction for M.S.W. concentration block, SLWK 795 only

Join our efforts

The field of social work opens opportunities for students, faculty and agencies to get involved in their local communities. New agencies interested in offering placements for field instruction should register through this form.