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Campus to offer part of Master of Social Work

October 06, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - University of Maryland officials announced Thursday that a social work program will be offered by the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown.

Beginning in the 2007-08 school year, students will be able to spend the first year of a Master of Social Work program at the Hagerstown campus. During the second year, students will have to take classes at UMBC in Baltimore.

Encouraging students to study locally will hopefully encourage them to work in the community after they graduate, said David Engle, director of the county department of social services.

"Our child welfare caseload is constantly growing," he said.

Because of a 22 percent increase in sexual abuse reports in the last year, 350 children in foster care, a growing elderly population and a 15 percent increase in the caseload over the past five years, Washington County needs more social workers, Engle said.

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As people age, they require more social services. Meals on Wheels and in-home medical care are two of the programs that assist the elderly, Engle said.

Elderly care requires a large group of social workers, he said.

Social workers also deal with domestic violence, and Washington County has a high number of those cases, Engle said.

During the first year, students will spend 16 hours a week off campus, working at local agencies. In their second year, students will spend 24 hours a week in their off-campus internships.

"Public social work is difficult work," Engle said.

Students studying social work tend to want fulfilling jobs that have a positive effect on others, he said.

The Washington County Department of Social Services will be one of several agencies where the students may intern.

UMBC's Master of Social Work program began in 1962 and has about 850 students, said Geoffrey Greif associate dean of the program. UMBC boasts one of the top 20 schools of social work in the country.

Officials expect about 20 students to enroll for classes in Hagerstown in the first year, Greif said.

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