JSWE Special Issue

Journal of Social Work Education

The context for social work education is rapidly changing. We must develop social workers who consistently use evidence to inform their practice, who are capable of delivering empirically supported interventions, and who understand and can apply implementation science and frameworks to support effective service delivery.

Referencing a recent Institute of Medicine report, then NIMH Director, Thomas Insel, challenged service professions to fully embrace and integrate evidence-based practice.

Increasingly, major funding sources require delivery of practice models with proven effectiveness for specific populations and behaviors of concern. Furthermore, despite political rancor, bipartisan legislation is emerging that requires delivery of evidence-based practice, including the following:

  • The Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), has been approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

  • The Every Student Succeeds Act includes more than 80 mentions of evidence and evidence-based practice and distributes power to states and districts to implement those provisions

  • Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is developing bipartisan congressional support for the Families First Act, which will require programs supported by Title IV-E funds to deliver well-defined promising practices beginning in 2017, then evidence-informed practices, and by 2023, evidence-based practices.

Consortium efforts lead to special issue!


Addressing results from our studies on workforce preparation and readiness (Barwick, 2011; Bertram, Charnin, Kerns, & Long, 2015), in 2015-16 the Consortium developed and presented its Janus series of webinars for MSW faculty and programs (https://ebpconsortium.com/webinars/msw-faculty-webinars).

Results from a survey of participants in those webinars were shared with the Council for Social Work Education (https://ebpconsortium.com/blog/msw-faculty-blog). A survey of those same participants sought suggestions for further Consortium training and technical assistance (https://ebpconsortium.com/blog/suggestions-for-ta-and-training).

Based upon this feedback we proposed a special issue of the Journal of Social Work Education to focus upon a key conceptual next step in professional workforce development: How to integrate evidence based practice and implementation science in academic and field curricula. Once accepted, a call for abstracts was disseminated in the spring and summer of 2016.

The response was overwhelming. We received over 50 proposals from across the United States, Canada, and Australia, of which 21 were invited to submit a manuscript by December 31, 2016 for this special issue. About half of these will ultimately reach hard copy in the special issue at the start of 2018.

In both content and in number, the abstract proposals demonstrated how the field is moving farther and faster than previous debates about evidence-based practice would suggest.

This special issue is being co-edited by our co-director,  Rosalyn M. Bertram, PhD (University of Missouri-Kansas City), by a Consortium advisory board member, Suzanne E. U. Kerns, PhD (University of Denver), and by Patricia L. Kohl, PhD (Washington University in St. Louis).

Drs. Kohl, Kerns and Bertram were key developers of the Consortium’s Janus Webinar Series for MSW Faculty.