Social Work Students Join Together in National Week of Action to Protest Unpaid Practicums

Protests are being spearheaded by grassroots organization Payment for Placements

Students Protest at UT Austin 4-11-2023

Students protest at UT Austin. Photo courtesy of UT FED UP.

Social work students across the United States are joining a National Week of Action led by Payment for Placements (P4P), with the intention of bringing attention to unpaid internships in social work education. The P4P National Week of Action will run April 10-14, 2023.

P4P is a student-led movement calling for fair payment for the mandatory practicums that social work students must complete in order to graduate. Currently, undergraduates must work 400 hours to complete their field education, while graduate students are required to work at minimum 900 hours. For the majority of students, this labor is entirely unpaid. P4P aims to make the field of social work equitable and accessible, citing the financial hardship and emotional distress experienced by students. Across the country, P4P chapters will be staging walkouts, holding rallies, and conducting social media and letter-writing campaigns to organize their student bodies and bring national awareness to the problems that unpaid field practicums cause for the profession.

"Right now, the current model calls for social work students to go to class and somehow pay living expenses, all while balancing a schedule that requires them to work for free for 20-40 hours per week. This is a structurally unjust and almost impossible model that discriminates against low-income students, and, disproportionately, students of color. This contributes to the fact that Black social workers carry roughly 50% more debt from social work education than white students," said Beth Wagner, an organizer with FED UP, a P4P chapter at the University of Texas, Austin.

"Social work students across the country know that unpaid field placements are a burden upon the entire social work profession," said Elana Metz, Co-chair of P4P at San Diego State University and national P4P leader. "We're unable to bring our best selves to our studies because we have to balance our unpaid placements with classes and paid work. We skip meals. We drop out. We never enroll in the first place. Today, we're showing the CSWE and NASW that we're no longer accepting the status quo of unpaid field placements."

"As social workers, we are required to abide by the values outlined in our Code of Ethics, including service, social justice, self-care, and the dignity and worth of a person," said Elise Colquitt, P4P UGA Co-Chair and national P4P leader. "We are asking for the field of Social Work to extend these values to its very own students by reversing the status quo of unpaid fieldwork. We are ready to work with the CSWE and NASW to make these necessary changes to better align ourselves with the Code of Ethics and support Social Work students as they enter the field."

Contact Beth Wagner, 301-800-1497, [email protected], or follow @p4pnational on Instagram.

Contact Information:
Beth Wagner
Organizer with FED UP, a P4P chapter at the University of Texas, Austin
[email protected]
Related Files
P4P National Week of Action Press Release.pdf

Original Source: Social Work Students Join Together in National Week of Action to Protest Unpaid Practicums

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