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Grant to help social work program address needs of aging population

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College’s social work program will develop additional curriculum to prepare graduates for work with an aging population, thanks to a grant from the National Center for Gerontological Social Work Education of the Council on Social Work Education.

The organization recently awarded Bethel a grant of $5,000, to be matched with in-kind and other sources from the social work program for a total of $7,500. The grant money will enable Bethel to increase gerontological content in its social work curriculum.

In addition to providing resources for support and development of the curriculum, the three-year plan includes provisions for faculty development, for creating a gerontological advisory group of social work professionals from the local area whose practice is primarily with older adults and for increasing the number of gerontological field experiences for social work majors.

This added experience with older adults will benefit all social work graduates, not just those who plan to work in adult services.

“For example, in the field of child welfare, social workers frequently are working with the extended support systems including grandparents who step in to help parent young children when the primary caregiver is not able to carry out that role,” said Larry Friesen, director of Bethel’s social work program. “We are pleased [to] receive funding that will enable us to strengthen our curriculum to better prepare our graduates for work with older adults.”

Friesen and Ada Schmidt-Tieszen, professor of social work and coordinator of field instruction, will work together to implement the grant.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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