Rutgers School of Social Work's Office of Field Education placed 21 MSW students with the New Jersey Department of Health and Rutgers School of Public Health's New Jersey Community Contact Tracing Corps, to serve as social support coordinators, and more as contact tracers, as COVID-19 presents new opportunities and calls for action in the field of social work.
Throughout this summer students working as social support coordinators were placed in each of New Jersey's 21 counties and served as case managers assisting individuals referred to them by contact tracers or local health department staff.
Jose A. Cruz, MSW, MBA, LCSW, Senior Program Coordinator for the SSW's New Brunswick field team says, "We want students to immerse themselves in the county they're working with and understand and interact with the social, racial, economic, and geographic diversity that makes up New Jersey. This is a unique experience and provides opportunity for historical reflection-- to understand how similar events were handled previously and how they can be made better in the present."
The social support coordinators bridged the fields of public health and social work as they provided appropriate referrals and linkages, conducted follow up to ensure adequacy of services, and maintained communication with the contract tracers to best serve their counties.
For field placement this academic year, some MSW students have also been hired as contact tracers through the NJ Community Contact Tracing Corps and will conduct interviews and document the path of COVID-19 throughout the state.
When asked about the intersection of social work and contact tracing, Mark Lamar, Executive Director of Field Education and Associate Professor of Professional Practice at the School of Social Work shared the reminder of this work and the field's Code of Ethics.
"Social work responds to emergencies both local and national," Lamar says. "It is this commitment to service and importance of embedding our work in other professions, like public health, that best helps the individuals and communities we serve."
For more information about the NJ Community Contact Tracing Corps, including employment opportunities, click here. Stay tuned as we will continue to share the experiences of our social work students serving as social support coordinators and contact tracers throughout the state.