The three-year grant will benefit students pursuing careers in social work, school counseling and clinical mental health counseling.
Cal U has received a three-year, $1.3 million grant to assist students preparing for careers in fields related to drug addiction policy, prevention and recovery.
The Health Resources and Services Administration Opioid Workforce Expansion grant will provide 27 stipends of $10,000 each to graduate students in the fields of social work, school counseling and clinical mental health counseling.
This is the second HRSA grant for Cal U. In 2017, the University received a four-year, $1.9 million grant to help students with field placements and to increase the services provided to schools and communities in medically underserved areas in the region.
“The Opioid Workforce Expansion grant is great because it’s for our students,” said Dr. Sheri Boyle, chair of the Social Work Department. “But it’s also critical for our community, because it will focus on the serious issue of opioid and other substance abuse disorders.”
Students in Cal U’s accredited counselor education program must complete a 600-hour field placement. The accredited social work program requires students to complete 660 hours in their advanced practicum.
“To be able to provide more than $270,000 per year in stipends is significant,” Boyle said. “It allows our students to focus on their studies and their practicums and not worry so much about expenses.”
“We work very closely with Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education and surrounding schools, and very few programs have an opportunity like this,” said Molly Jenkins, project coordinator for the grant.
The project will aid graduate students working toward a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling, a Master of Education in school counseling PreK-12, or a master’s degree in social work.
“Cal U's counselor education and social work programs address addiction, but this grant will really help our students get that additional training in substance use disorders,” said Dr. Elizabeth Gruber, chair of the Counselor Education Department. “It will have an impact in the community as they’re training and after they graduate.”
“It’s not just drug and alcohol clinics,” Boyle said. “Many of our students want to work at schools or in the community on early intervention. From the social work perspective, some may want to work on the policy side to delve into what else people may need to recover from addiction.”
The grant also will be used for training in the community.
“We may collaborate with police officers or first responders for trainings and provide continuing education credits as required in behavioral health professions to maintain licensure,” Gruber said.
“We recognize there is a crisis,” Boyle said, “and we want to do our part to help people and communities.”