Apr 25, 2022

Partnership with Next Step Ministries fosters global competence for social work students

Social work students are gaining valuable international experiences through a field placement with Next Step Ministries, a charitable organization, based in Calgary, Canada, that is dedicated to helping women leave situations of sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

“What sets Next Step Ministries apart is their relational commitment to all their participants,” noted Alisa Presarchuk, a Master’s in Social Work student. “This is seen both throughout their outreach and recovery programs and in how they ensure that when a participant graduates from their program, the door is always open for them to return.”

Next Step Ministries provides a range of services to the women in recovery, including (but not limited to) therapeutic, educational and vocational services. To better understand the needs of the women they serve, the organization works hard to build relationships within the community and with fellow agencies and public services.

“For those wanting to emulate this project, my recommendation would be to first understand those you serve. Strive to understand their culture, their communities, their environment, and their lived experiences,” explained Preskarchuk. “It is of critical importance to be a community-based practice. Do not wait for them to show up at your agency, but seek them out, begin to build relationships, and truly meet them where they are at in their journey.”

In 2021 the College of Social Work formalized the partnership with Next Step Ministries to create the opportunity for students in the MSW program to undertake the field placement – in-person or hybrid.

The values at the heart of this collaboration are the global perspectives gained by everyone involved. Anna Stewart, assistant director of field education, College of Social Work, explained, “I work with students living outside of the U.S. to establish field placement agencies in their countries that will provide them with an appropriate learning experience in the student’s area of interest. This creates the opportunity to see what social work practice looks like across the globe.”

This collaboration not only allows students to gain important and practical professional development, the social work students are also able to develop valuable global competencies.