PIKEVILLE – The Council on Social Work Education has granted accreditation to the University of Pikeville’s bachelor degree program in social work.
In a letter to administrators, James P. Adams, Ph.D., chair of the Commission on Accreditation (COA), congratulated the university on the achievement. The initial accreditation has been granted through 2016. Currently one of only 482 accredited baccalaureate social work programs across the nation, the five-year accreditation process includes self-studies, site visits and review by the COA.
Genesia Kilgore-Bowling, social work program director and assistant professor of social work at the university, said the accreditation provides assurance to students, agencies and the general public that the institution meets COA standards for quality curriculum, faculty and student resources. It also allows the social work degree to be recognized by professional associations.
“More importantly, most social work regulatory boards responsible for licensing social workers for various practice situations require that social work degrees be obtained from programs that are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education,” said Kilgore-Bowling.
Social work is one of the fastest growing occupations in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Statistics. The profession is expected to increase by 25 percent through 2020, particularly in the areas of gerontology, home health care, in the private sector and school social work. Statistics also show that employment of mental health and substance abuse social workers is expected to grow by 31 percent, and faster than the average for all occupations. The growth is expected as more people seek treatment for mental illness and addiction. In addition, Kilgore-Bowling noted that drug offenders are increasingly being sent to treatment programs rather than to jail. As a result, use of substance abuse treatment programs is expected to grow, increasing demand for mental health and substance abuse social workers.
The University of Pikeville’s social work program educates students in the generalist practice approach, with emphasis on social work practice in rural Appalachia. All social work majors are provided the opportunity to “practice” social work in the field in an approved agency under the direction of professional social workers and program faculty. Graduates are prepared for advanced degree programs of study or to seek opportunities as social work professionals in health care facilities, mental health treatment centers, substance abuse treatment centers, community development, advocacy firms, schools, criminal justice settings and child and adult protective services.
“I am extremely proud of our social work program and find it very rewarding to see our recent graduates in our community making a difference in the lives of others and helping to improve the overall well-being of the Appalachian people,” said Kilgore-Bowling. “I am excited to see our program grow and to witness the impact that our future graduates will have on our community, our society and even our world.”