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MU and UMSL Schools of Social Work Receive Joint Grant

The schools of social work at the University of Missouri and the University of Missouri-St. Louis received a $1.8 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. The grant will be spread over four years and will allow both campuses to fund a combined 120 students in the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training for Professionals program.

Students who are part of the program will be prepared to work at integrated behavioral healthcare centers with vulnerable and under-served populations. Part of the grant will be used to provide stipends to students during their clinical placements in under-served areas. Students have to complete a total of two placements, which amount to about 600 hours of work with vulnerable populations.

This is the second time the schools of social work at MU and UMSL received this grant. Dale Fitch, director of the MU School of Social Work, said part of the reason they received it again this year was the program’s previous success.

“We’ve demonstrated that we have done a good job not only training these social workers to work in behavioral health care settings, but the social workers that we’ve trained have gone on to largely get employment in these clinics,” he said.

Fitch said many master’s students who participate in the program go on to work with under-served and vulnerable populations after graduation.

“Over 90 percent of our students end up being placed in an integrated behavioral healthcare setting,” he said.

Under-served and vulnerable populations usually have no or limited access to healthcare and typically have shorter life-spans. However, Fitch says patients are not the only ones affected by these health issues.

“It affects their family, their extended family, if they are a parent it impacts their children; in terms of income instability, housing instability and food instability,” he said.

For that reason, Sheena Rice, spokesperson with the University of Missouri, said this grant is an opportunity for the institution to give back to the community.

“This is going to help build an educated and experienced workforce to deliver needed health services to vulnerable individuals and their families,” she said. “This is something that is beyond beneficial, it’s necessary for rural communities. We are really thrilled that this is a great opportunity to support Missouri.”

Between online and on-campus students, the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training for Professionals program expects to prepare about 200 students by 2018 to serve the specific needs of vulnerable and under-served populations who are in need of physical and mental healthcare.