WELCOME TO THE REAL CASES PROJECT!
The purpose of the Real Cases Project is to broadly expand knowledge and skills of students and faculty concerning social work practice in a public child welfare context. The central elements of the Real Cases curriculum integration effort are three case studies, drawn from Administration for Children’s Services’ innovative, agency-wide case review process. Social work faculty, affiliated with social work programs throughout the Metropolitan New York Area, wrote thirteen teaching guides that differentially integrate these cases into plans for teaching specific courses, including common foundation areas, practice method/level courses, and key electives. The extensive guides integrate the cases with course-specific objectives and suggestions for teaching and evaluation. Leaders from the Administration for Children’s Services wrote and collected highly useful appendices to illuminate policies and practices relevant to the cases, and these are linked with the teaching guides. Our overall evaluation engages both faculty and students in providing feedback on their experience and outcomes of using the Real Cases material in the classroom.
Under the umbrella of the New York Social Work Education Consortium, the Real Cases Project addresses significant concerns about education, recruitment and retention of workers in this essential field of the profession, and builds on over 100 years of case study learning in social work education. Developed through a long-standing and extensive collaboration among social work educators and child welfare professionals in New York, the conditions influencing the project’s development provide a model of community engagement and collaboration.
As a web-based and hard-copy document, the Real Cases Project will be widely accessible to all programs in our long-standing Consortium. This local (albeit large-scale) model for child welfare infusion can be adapted for use in other venues, and the case study based, multi-course approach is a model for other collaborative, integrative initiatives in other fields.
In developing the Real Cases Project, we have taken the position that the effort to connect child welfare and social work education must be ambitious and creative, bringing together the theory and practice of all areas of the social work curriculum. The Real Cases approach promotes public child welfare as an important arena for professional practice, policy and research, and suggests that students can apply what they learn in studying other settings to this one, and vice versa. It brings together diverse groups of faculty and draws inspiration and context from actual case studies from public child welfare, providing course-specific methods and resource materials for integrating public child welfare in social work education without altering existing curriculum.