The China Project has attracted support from community leaders and friends of the Faculty of Social Work over the last decade. Through our work in China, we have identified a number of possible future initiatives that will strategically support the development of social work in China. Depending on the availability of funding, the following programs may be launched. If you are interested in supporting these programs, please get in touch with Professor Tsang, Director of the China Project.
- Through our collaboration with Tsinghua University, we have discovered new needs in the area of health and mental health. Examples include effective treatment for addiction, especially among children and youth; widespread mental health issues such as depression and sleep disorders; and family, marital, and parenting difficulties (e.g. rapidly increasing divorce rate, parental migration, single-parenthood, care-giving to the elderly) that impact on the health and mental health of family members.
We are looking for funding to support research and development of effective intervention programs, as well as documentation and the transfer of knowledge and skills to Chinese health care and social service professionals. Specific activities will include:
- intervention program development and outcome research, involving effective knowledge transfer and scholarly exchange between Tsinghua University and the University of Toronto (training visits, research and development workshops, research meetings and conferences);
- development of treatment manuals, training materials, training modules and course materials, instruction DVDs, and interactive learning websites;
- training modules for a larger number of practitioners who can continue to deliver the intervention programs, including a train-the-trainers component to ensure self-sustainability.
We are estimating a five-year completion cycle for this initiative.
- Given our many collaborative initiatives in Shandong Province, it would be ideal if we could set up a social work learning centre in Shandong, with a small full-time staff (a director and two project associates who are social workers, and a secretary). The Social Work Practice Learning Centre, supported by the China Project team at the University of Toronto, will provide ongoing professional support to our colleagues in Shandong in terms of training, consultation, supervision, program development, research and program evaluation.
Most schools of social work in China suffered from the lack of practical experience and practice teaching. Since professional social work education was only reestablished recently in China, most of the social work teachers themselves are not trained social workers, but academics transferred from other disciplines such as sociology, philosophy, economics and psychology. These social work educators typically focus on the classroom teaching of theory, concepts, and practice principles, without much direct experience to share with their students. Our initiative in Shandong specifically targets this knowledge and learning gap, and therefore focuses on the development of direct practice skills. The proposed Learning Centre will offer the following services:
- coordination of knowledge transfer and scholarly exchange between Canada and Shandong, especially focusing on the organization of training activities, professional/academic team meetings and conferences involving Canadian and International colleagues. This can include special practical skills workshops, training programs, and research and development workshops for specific areas of direct practice (e.g. family violence, addiction, medical social work, etc.);
- provision of direct professional consultation and support to direct practitioners and social work educators in the growing number of new initiatives. Given the fact that many of our Shandong colleagues do not have direct social work practice experience in areas such as school social work, medical social work, domestic violence, developmental disabilities, etc., the Learning Centre with facilitate collaboration between direct practitioners and social work educators. This initiative works to encourage social work educators to get involved with direct social work practice. This can take the form of work-partnership or work team development, building practice programs staffed by social work educators and students, special time-limited community based projects involving social work teachers and students;
- support for social work practicum education: The Learning Centre will help to train and develop professional social work practicum educators through hands-on practicum experience. Social work teachers will be recruited and trained to be practicum educators in specific direct practice areas through an initial intensive training program. This will be followed by ongoing consultation and professional development support. The Learning Centre will also help social work teachers and practicum students access relevant information and resources, such as practice manuals, research and practice literature, online resources, experts in the given area of practice, etc., to facilitate their practice learning and skills development;
- The Learning Centre will keep careful documentation of its activities and develop them into useful resources for future social work practice education. This will include program manuals, instruction videos, interactive learning websites, etc.
The funding support we are looking for will include staff salaries, administrative costs and program expenses. A three year commitment should make a significant contribution towards the development of indigenous capacity, creating a local team of experts who can then take over the roles and function independently. This Social Work Practice Learning Centre could be named after the donor.
- We wish to encourage student participation in the China Project, which has so far been limited due to the lack of funding. Graduate students in our MSW and Ph.D. programs can go to China to do practicum work, research, and participate in local initiatives. This can be funded through graduate fellowships. Students will go in small groups of 3 to 5 each time. We are hoping to support 30 student visits, spreading over 3 to 5 years. This will enrich our students' international exposure and educational experience, while contributing directly to the capacity of the China Project. These graduate fellowships could be names after the donor.
- Continuation of the visiting scholars program, which has demonstrated effectiveness and positive impact on social work education, and the development of social welfare in China. The program will target candidates of high-calibre in academic, government, and social service organizations who have good potential for making high impact contributions. We are hoping to support one scholar per year over the next five years. The visiting scholars program could be named after the donor.
- We now have an invaluable opportunity to collaborate with the Chinese Legislation Bureau of the Ministry of Civil affairs, and to have direct input into the legislative and policy formulation process in the social welfare area. This initiative will involve policy research to support legal reforms in China related to social welfare, social assistance for rural communities, registration of charity organizations, disaster relief, and similar projects. This will involve comparative policy research, data collection in China and internationally, and regular meetings of the researchers and officials of the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs. This initiative will have a significant and far-reaching impact on the social welfare situation in China.
- Focused development of social work practicum training opportunities is critically inadequate in most parts of China. The China Project, in collaboration with leading universities in China, can develop standard-setting practicum sites to advance social work practice and training. The major strategy is to target potential social work teachers and to help them develop their competence and capacity in practicum training. This will be achieved through group training, personalized coaching, development of supporting resources, and ongoing consultation. Administrative costs, salaries for instructors and supervisors, and consultation and research expenses would also need to be considered.