Practicum Search & Placement Process
After the Practicum Application is completed and submitted, the process for obtaining a practicum placement is one of matching the needs and learning goals of students with learning opportunities provided by collaborating practicum agencies. Placement in areas of students’ practice interests and geographical location will be accommodated, if possible.
Once the application is received a Practicum Coordinator is assigned. The coordinator will begin consultation with their students—via U of L email communication once the student has received the UofL Email. Once the UofL email is assigned no personal/work emails will be used to discuss potential placement options. It is critical that students check their UofL email regularly once it is received even if they aren’t in class, as important and time sensitive information which demands a response will be sent.
The Practicum Coordinator will work to select prospective Practicum sites for students preferably those with an affiliation agreement with Kent School, which most appear able to meet students’ learning needs and interests. Practicum Coordinators make initial contact with any/all prospective agencies to ensure they are able and willing to host students.
If a student would like to do an employment-base practicum, that should be indicated in the practicum application. The Practicum Coordinator will contact the student to discuss the requirements, provide the appropriate guidelines and proposal form, and carefully review the request for final approval.
Students should not initiate contact with any agency requesting placement until they have communicated with their practicum coordinator and the coordinator has given them directions and approval to contact an agency.
If a student has an agency where they would like to do a practicum the student should discuss that with the Practicum coordinator. Before students can be placed in an agency there has to be legal agreement between the University and that agency. This is called an affiliation agreement. If there isn’t an affiliation contract the Practicum Education Office and/or the assigned Practicum Coordinator will initiate contact and guide the agency through the process to secure practicum placement on the students’ behalf. (Be aware that these can take a long time to secure. This is one very important reason that students should return their application forms as early as possible.) The student is not authorized to discuss affiliation with an agency independently
When a prospective agency is selected for a student, the student will be emailed a Referral letter from their assigned coordinator with direct contact information for one prospective agency. The students will be responsible for scheduling a placement interview with the prospective agency by a specified date to determine the suitability of matches. The students should treat these interviews, whether in-person or virtual, like a job interview: early/timely arrival, appropriate appearance/attire, and an updated professional resume in-hand or sent prior via email.
The students and prospective agency will complete an Agency Practicum Placement Agreement form indicating their respective placement decisions by specified dates. If either party declines the placement, the coordinator notifies students of further practicum options, and the referral process repeats.
If both parties agree to placement, a Confirmation letter advising finalized practicum assignment will be emailed to students and agency. This letter will also include important next steps to be carried out by either the students, the agency, or both to successfully onboard the students to begin practicum..
Some agencies require that students have completed additional requirements for a placement at the agency such as criminal records check, fingerprinting, vaccinations, drug screens specialized trainings, etc. Students need to clarify if there are any of these type requirements at the agency if the student is interested in a placement at the agency. The University does not cover the costs of any of these, but some agencies will. So it is important to clarify that also.
Some agencies may require the student to provide a Criminal Background Check or Drug Screen. In those situations the University contracts with a third-party vendor which helps obtain such clearances at a cost which is significantly less than the student might pay other providers for the same services.
Practicum and Agency Orientations
The Practicum Education Office requires BSW, 1st Year MSSW Generalist, and 2nd Year MSSW Specialized students complete an online orientation from Kent School.
The orientations will be available to students several weeks before the beginning of the semester and students will be notified that it is available. Students will have until the end of the second week of practicum to complete the orientation. These hours will count toward student practicum hours. The student will follow the instructions for completion of the orientation and loading the hours into Sonia. The Practicum Education Office will approve the online orientation hours in SONIA.
If an agency requires a student complete an agency orientation, prior to the start of the semester, the student must attend the orientation, but may not begin their on-site practicum until the start of the semester. Agency orientation hours will be approved by the Practicum Instructor.