Placement Learning Assignments
- Reading or assignments in relation to Master of Social Work (MSW) courses should not interfere with field placement time.
- Up to 10 hours for the foundational field placement course (SK541) and up to 20 hours for the advanced field placement course (SK649) is allowed towards formal faculty committee work and/or approved Faculty of Social Work field learning opportunities.
- In line with the faculty’s standards of approval for field placement assignments, students cannot complete two MSW placements within the same agency, or same type of social work learning environment (i.e., two hospital placements, two government placements, or two workplace placements).
- Placement hours required for each field course do not include meal break time.
- All placement start and end dates are based on a seven hour/day schedule. That is, students attend placement eight hours/day and take an hour break.
- Total placement hours in a day (including overtime) may not exceed nine placement hours.
- Successful completion of a field course requires:
- Completion of all placement hours.
- Time sheet approved by instructor.
- Satisfactory evaluations.
- All students are expected to attend placement during regular business hours (i.e. 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) as this is the typical timeframe for MSW placements. Evening hours may be required by some agencies in order to facilitate group programs (e.g. 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and students must make arrangements to be at placement during those hours.
- Agencies do not offer placements that take place strictly in the evening. It is the student's responsibility to make arrangements to be in attendance at placement during regular business hours.
- Students attend placement during regular agency hours and during the availability of the onsite field instructor.
- Placement start and end dates cannot be adjusted without approval from the Field Education Office.
- There is no break in students’ placement between the winter and spring terms.
Policies applicable to part-time cohorts only
- Part-time students have the option to complete the Foundational placement over a 2-day period.
- Part-time students opting to complete placement over 2 days/week are considered for placements with agencies that can accommodate a 2 day/week schedule.
- The option to complete a block placement may only available during the summer placement term and only for the advanced placement. Summer placement terms are offered at the discretion of the Field Office, and are open for a small number of students who apply for a summer placement term and are approved by the Field Office.
- Students are required to attend placement for a minimum of 14 hours of placement time each week and must be spread over a 2 day period.
- Placement hours may not exceed 9 placement hours per day.
- Weekend hours cannot be expected unless the Instructor is available to supervise the student, and the agency is open and functional during weekend hours. This option is only available for part-time students and must be vetted by the Field Education Office.
Summer Block Placement
The Field Education Office introduced a summer placement term as a pilot in 2015 for advanced placements. and that option is currently under review. Summer placement terms are not guaranteed and are not an option for foundational placements. If made available, students must apply to request completing a summer placement term. Approved students may complete their advanced field course (SK649) over the summer term if they are able to adhere to the placement structure and regulations provided by the Field Education Office.
Students are expected to complete the hours within the start and end dates provided. The summer block placement course is an option for approved students in the two-year full-time program, three-year part-time program, or two-year advanced standing part-time program.
- Spring term (May to August): 35 placement hours per week, five days/week.
- Total: 546 hours over 78 days.
International Social Work Placement
Full-time students in the International Social Work Program completing their advanced international placement course (SK649) abide by the following placement structure and hours:
- Fall term: 35 placement hours per week, five days/week.
- Total: 546 hours over 78 days.
Overtime required in connection with a student’s placement should follow the usual policy of the agency, but may not accumulate beyond a one month period. The field instructor should arrange for compensatory time to be taken within four weeks following the accrual of substantial amounts of overtime. Overtime can be used to shorten the span of the placement only in the following circumstances:
- Documented critical event that requires the student to complete placement early. This can be done with the instructor's approval and in consultation with the field advisor and the Field Education Office. The Field Education Office considers these cases individually to assess the student's completed hours and outstanding hours required based on the student’s MSW program.
- If the student has taken the required steps with the Field Education Office to complete a summer placement and the foundational placement instructor approves of ending the placement in time for the beginning of the summer placement in May.
Ending Placement Early
Agencies provide placement opportunities taking into consideration the length of time a student will be in placement. Placements cannot end early and overtime cannot be used to shorten the length of a placement except in the two aforementioned instances.
Thesis students in the advanced standing program may opt to be exempt from 315 field placement hours towards the advanced placement. Accordingly students have the option to complete 231 hours of placement over the course of 33 days rather than 546 hours of placement (78 days).
Thesis students in the two year full-time or three year part-time programs may opt to be exempt from 126 hours towards the advanced, second placement. Accordingly students have the option to complete 420 hours of placement over the course of 60 days rather than 546 hours of placement (78 days). Exemptions may not be split between placements and cannot apply to the foundational placement.
Students who do not complete a thesis after having reduced their placement time, will be required to complete the hours they were exempted from as per the MSW Program requirements for a non-thesis student to ensure accreditation standards are upheld.
Changing Placement Timelines
Placements cannot start prior to the approved placement start date, and cannot be extended after the approved placement end date without approval. Students who wish to alter their placement schedules need to submit a formal request to the Field Education Office. If approved, students may then negotiate an alternative timeline with their instructor and agency.
Holidays and Reading Weeks
As per the FSW regulations, students are required to complete the total hours required of their placement (462 for all foundational placements, and 546 for all advanced placements). The placement terms have been structured to allow students to take time off for university observed holidays, and reading weeks.
Students who are absent for any reason (including unexpected agency closures) are required to make up the time missed during the scheduled time off below (e.g. during reading week, or the December break) or make alternative arrangements. There may be additional holidays observed by the agency that are not observed by the university. Students who take these holidays or any other holiday must ensure that they are completing the required total placement hours prior to the scheduled placement end date.
Students who opt to attend placement during reading week, or the December break, may negotiate with their instructor to take time off during other days, and complete placement by the end date and not earlier. The Field Education Office plans all placement start and end dates with the assumption that students will take Reading week off.
Fall Reading Week
The fall reading week includes Thanksgiving Monday and the four days following. Students are not required to attend placement during this time.
Winter Reading Week
The winter reading week incluces Family Day and the four days following. Students are not required to attend placement during this time.
The following conditions or considerations apply:
- School board and students completing placement in a university setting take March break or intersession week off instead of, not in addition to, Laurier’s reading week.
- Agencies and students may negotiate days off at other times throughout placement as it suits the needs of all concerned.
- Students may not take these days off at the end of placement as the intention is to maintain the current length of the placement period.
Any absences must be made up. This includes planned and unexpected absences, such as notices of closure by agency (e.g. snow days, strike), as well as critical events (documented illness, serious family difficulties, etc.).
Process for Reporting
Students are professional learners and adhere to the agency policies while on placement including the process for reporting absences. As any professional setting, students are required to communicate absences to the instructor immediately, and as per the agency policies (e.g. reporting absence no later than official start time of placement day) to report illness or any other situation requiring absence from placement. The student is expected inform the MSW field coordinator and assigned field advisor of any absences exceeding three consecutive days.
If a situation requires more time away, the field instructor, field advisor and the MSW field coordinator must be notified, by the student immediately. An individualized plan suitable to the circumstances will be determined through discussion among the instructor, advisor and student. The MSW field education coordinator will be consulted as needed and approve the final plan. The plan will include a schedule to make up the time off. Normally, the make-up time is either within the placement period and/or at the end of the usual placement period. Overtime accrued before the situation occurred will serve as make-up time. Depending on circumstances, the student may need to be complete placement at another time within the structures and regulations of the Faculty. The main consideration is that students complete all field requirements of the MSW program as outlined in the MSW Field Education manual.
Faculty and Community Meetings, Events and Workshops
Attending Faculty Meetings or Events
Students who are involved in faculty committees, and/or would like to attend faculty conferences (e.g. Equity Forum, Wholistic Healing Conference) are allowed up to 10 hours during the foundational placement timeline, and up to 20 hours during the advanced placement timeline to engage in formal faculty committee work. This must be discussed and negotiated with the field instructor with appropriate notice given to the instructor. Students will not be required to make up time in placement as these are considered essential learning components of the MSW program. When possible, students are expected to share these dates with instructors at the start of the placement term.
Community and Professional Development Workshops
A student who wishes to be away to attend a workshop, specialized learning modules or conference in the community or through professional development will negotiate that with the instructor. Make-up time is required as a condition for approval of a request for special leave. Time to attend workshops must be approved by the instructor and students are required to make up missed time through approved overtime or an extension of their placement.
Documenting Placement Hours
Students are expected to utilize the appropriate Placement Hours Timesheet to document their hours. Time Sheets are submitted to the Instructors, Advisors, and field office, alongside the mid-term and final evaluation by students and are used to demonstrate and account for required placement hours. Accordingly, the Time Sheet and Evaluation are required to enter a grade for the field course.
Students are responsible for submitting the Time sheet to the instructor on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. The accumulated hours at the mid-term evaluation and the final evaluation are submitted by the student to the Field Education Office, instructor, and field advisor.
Timesheets are made available by the Field Education Office at the start of each placement cycle.
Any hours exceeding 7 hours a day, must be entered as overtime hours in the timesheet. Total hours per day cannot exceed 9 placement hours (breaks not included).
Expenses incurred by the student in the placement agency will ordinarily be met by the teaching centre. Normally the student’s gas costs for agency business are covered by the agency. Parking costs are not covered. Costs for workshops, police record checks and immunizations (where required) may or may not be covered by the agency. If not, costs are covered by the student.
Students do not receive payment during their placement and may not charge clients fees other than those that may be usual for the agency to charge. Students completing a placement in their workplace may negotiate payment with their employment distinct from the Faculty of Social Work. This is usually possible for part-time students who complete a workplace placement on a part-time basis while working with the agency as a part-time employee.
Most agencies require police record checks, including vulnerable sector checks, and/or updated immunizations and records, including TB test and mask fittings (all hospitals and medical clinics). These requirements must be met by the student before the placement is scheduled to start. These requirements are normally stated on the portal for each placement opportunity, and agencies also inform students of these requirements prior to or during the interview. The process of meeting these requirements must begin several weeks ahead of placement due to length of time required to complete them.
Vulnerable Sector Record Checks
Most placements require police record checks, including vulnerable sector checks. There is a cost associated with these checks, which is the responsibility of the student to cover. The process can take between 6-10 weeks. All students are highly encouraged to apply for their police check at least 10-12 weeks prior to the start of placements. This requirement is normally stated on the portal for each placement opportunity, and students are advised of this requirement during the placement interview.
Workers’ Compensation and WSIB
By law, Wilfrid Laurier University is responsible for registered students in the event of an unpaid workplace injury. All social work students in this program who are involved in an unpaid field placement as part of their degree program and are placed in a setting registered with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) are covered by that Act. In the event of placement related injury or illness students may be eligible for benefits related to uninsured health costs and in some cases lost pay. Students who are in settings not registered with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board are covered by an insurance plan paid for by the Province of Ontario.
In the event of a placement related injury or illness, or the possibility of a placement related injury or illness students and field instructors are advised to consult with the MSW Field Education Coordinator. The time frame for claims is very short and stringent so immediate action is required. This benefit to students is at no cost to agencies and will not impact on their risk assessments with WSIB.
Students are required to submit a completed Student Declaration of Understanding form. By signing this form, students are confirming that they understand that WSIB or private insurance coverage will be provided through the MTCU while they are on a placement arranged by the university as a requirement of their program of study. This form must be submitted to the Field Office within the first week of placement. Students cannot continue in placement if this form is not submitted by the deadline.
Agencies are required to submit a completed Letter to Placement Employers. By signing this form, agencies are confirming their understanding of their responsibility to protect student trainees from health and safety hazards in the workplace and to ensure appropriate supervision during their placement. They are also agreeing to report workplace injuries to Laurier immediately. This letter of understanding only needs to be completed once for each placement employer.
Student and Agency
A Safety Orientation Checklist must be completed by the Field Instructor and the student. This checklist may be used to document health and safety orientation provided to a student prior to exposure of hazards. If an agency is training a group of students, one checklist may be submitted for all students that includes an attached list of student names and signatures. This checklist, or an alternate form of documentation, must be submitted for each new student(s), within the first week of placement. Students cannot continue in placement if this form is not submitted by the deadline.
All WSIB coverage forms are submitted to the MSW Field Education Office via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), fax (519-888-9732), mail, or hard copy (brown mailbox across from the elevator on 4th floor of the FSW).
Policy for MSW Students with Accommodation Needs
Students who require academic and placement accommodations for disability-related reasons are encouraged to contact the Accessible Learning Centre. Taking into consideration the student’s consent, Accessible Learning may share the accommodation plan with the Field Education Office. The accommodation plan assists the Field Education Office in helping facilitate a suitable placement and the provision of required accommodations at the placement setting. Some examples of accommodations include flexibility with the placement’s time structure, physical equipment such as technological supports, or more time for report writing. In consultation with the student, the Field Education Office liaises with placement agencies that are able to provide the resources to accommodate the student’s needs. The student is then referred to the agency for a placement interview. In co-creating an environment to facilitate learning, students have to be able to fulfill the core functions of the placement. Accommodations must be balanced with the professional integrity of field placement and professional requirements.