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Atlantic Region Mi’kmaq/Maliseet Bachelor of Social Work Degree


RATIONALE (see outline of programme document for more detailed information)
In October of 2003, Dr. John Coates of St. Thomas University undertook a cross-sectional research initiative to study the Present and Future Need for First Nation Social Workers in the Maritime Provinces. The study documented “the need for professionally trained First Nations social workers for First Nations communities, and serious concerns about the ability to find and hire qualified social workers exists in all three Maritime provinces. However, the current need varies from province to province with New Brunswick expressing the most urgent need.”

The proposed 3 year mixed instructional program is designed to accommodate individuals who are currently working in the social field, often with family and other responsibilities, to continue in their position while obtaining their BSW degree. Although the bulk of students will come from those employed by or heading towards work with native child welfare agencies, there may be interest from other areas such as alcohol and drug staff, welfare officers or employment and training staff.

A proposed schedule will require the following:

  • Students from NS and NB coming together at one location for 4 to 5 weeks each May or June;
  • Students coming together to a central location (to be determined) one week per month in the September to December period and,
  • Students using distance education technology for instruction and student interaction in the January through April period.

The unique nature of this programme is captured through its mode of delivery, its regional focus rather than with the course content or sequencing. Careful attention has been paid to maintaining the integrity of both St. Thomas and Dalhousie Universities’ BSW programmes when designing the programme.

Steps have been taken to inform and consult with administration regarding the developments surrounding the MMBSW. The steps include:

  • initial discussion between Dr. Coates and Dr. Myers, Academic Vice-President
  • meeting with Dr. Coates, Prof. deVink (Chair) to update with Dr. Myers
  • meeting with Dr. O’Brien and Prof. deVink (August, 2004) to provide information
  • letter, proposal sent to Dr. O’Brien and Dr. Malcolmson in November, 2004
  • two meetings between the Depts. of Native Studies and Social Work in November and December, 2004
  • meeting with Larry Batt, Kathryn Monti, Brian Ouellette and Sandra deVink on February 2, 2005
  • meeting with Sandra Germain, Kathryn Monti, Brian Ouellette and Sandra deVink on February 8, 2005

The MMBSW should be self-funding through tuition and funds to cover administrative costs. It is anticipated that the university should not incur any costs associated with implementation of this programme. Additional faculty resources will not be required. St. Thomas is responsible for teaching 7 courses for a total of 24ch over a three year period. In addition, we will be responsible to provide faculty liaison for 700 hour field placement with the cohort of students registered at St. Thomas. University faculty will be given a stipend to teach in the programme and/or qualified sessional instructors will be hired to teach.

A programme coordinator, Sandra Germain, has been hired to coordinate the work associated with the MMBSW. This includes support services to students, assistance with the admissions process, establishing off-site teaching venues, assisting with the coordination of field placements, planning steering committee meetings, disseminating information on the programme and numerous other administrative duties. We anticipate that the coordinator’s role will decrease some of the administrative work carried by department of social work and the university administration with implementation of the programme.

The first intake will begin as soon as funding and academic approval has been obtained. It is hoped that students from the first intake can begin studies in the Fall 2005 for a three year period. This will be followed by a second intake in 2008 for a total duration of six years.

The first intake will include a maximum of 35 students. In order to be self-sufficient, the programme requires 25 full-time students.

Consultation meetings have been held with Kathryn Monti to identify and explore relevant implementation questions in relation to all aspects of admissions. The admissions requirements for the first intake of the MMBSW will be based on existing criteria for the four year BSW programme, however, the forms will be revised to reflect the unique character of this programme.

Although the focus of this programme is the education of social workers to meet the gaps for trained professionals in First Nations communities, it has been noted that the regional model being developed could become a prototype for meeting training needs in other disciplines. If successful, the model might be adapted in addressing similar resource gaps for teachers and nurses.