Post-Master's Certificate Program in Equity-Minded Practice FA22 (IV)

Ended Aug 15, 2023

Full course description

           Post-Master's Certificate Program in Equity-Minded Practice FA22 (IV)

For DCF Participants

October 28, 2022 - August 15, 2023

We draw from the paradigm of equity-minded practice in social work education to conceptualize this certificate program, which will support DCF supervisors and managers’ development of knowledge and skills integral to critically culturally competent, intersectional, and anti-oppressive practice (Johnson, Slayter and Simmons, 2021). Equity-mindedness is the perspective or mode of thinking and practice exhibited by practitioners who call attention to patterns of inequity in client processes and outcomes (Council on Social Work Education, 2020). These practitioners take personal as well as institutional responsibility for the success of their clients, and critically reassess their own practices through engaging in reflectivity and reflexivity (Schön, 1983; 1987). Practitioners in this mode are intersectionality-conscious and aware of the social and historical context of oppressive practices in child welfare and ancillary systems.

Our certificate program honors the need for social workers to be aware of a range of social identities, including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, disability, sexuality, socioeconomic status (SES), and immigration status.

Learning Objectives

 At the completion of the certificate program, participants will be able to:

  1. Explain how their social identities inform their child welfare practice  
  2. Use data to identify inequitable processes and outcomes by social identity statuses 
  3. Discuss influences of various child welfare practices on processes and outcomes related to social identities 
  4. Exercise agency to contribute to equitable processes and outcomes for clients and colleagues of all social identities  
  5. View practice contexts and relationships as influenced by dynamics of privilege and oppression
  6. Self-monitor interactions with clients and colleagues of different social identities


Program Description, Schedule, Content Delivery

The program will address four areas within the larger framework of equity-minded practice in child welfare: race and ethnicity, disability, immigrants and refugees and the Queer communities. Our sessions are as follows

  • Introductions and “consenting to learn in public” (week 1)
    • Getting to know one another
    • Creating shared agreements for the semester
    • Introducing the equity-minded practice framework
    • Equity vs. equality
    • Reviewing the cycle of socialization 
  • Addressing Disproportionality and Disparity in Child Welfare (weeks 2 - 4)
    • Reflexivity and reflectivity as tools for anti-racist practice
    • Critical cultural competence, intersectionality, cultural humility, and anti-oppressive practice as frameworks for child welfare supervision and practice
    • Using data to understand and address racial and ethnic disproportionalities 
    • Exploring policy mechanisms at the mezzo and macro levels that influence disproportionality and disparity in child welfare processes and outcomes
  • Disability and Child Welfare (weeks 5 - 7)
    • Becoming disability competent in child welfare practice
    • Learning about disability identity and culture for client empowerment
    • Identifying and confronting ableism in child welfare practice
    • Understanding the social and medical models of disability to inform practice
    • Subverting the personal tragedy theory of disability 
    • Embracing disability justice principles for empowerment-oriented practice
  • Mid-Semester Check-In (week 8)
    • Assessing progress towards course objectives
    • Reviewing expectations for the capstone project
    • Shoring up our data skills for evidence-based, equity-minded practice 
  • Child Welfare Practice with Immigrants and Refugees (weeks 9 - 11) 
    • Cultural responsiveness to the multiple psychosocial challenges of immigrant and refugee populations in child welfare practice
    • Integration of various approaches to working with immigrant families and children that build upon ecosystems theory, empowerment, strengths-based and collaborative perspectives to child welfare services
    • Respect the unique cultures, values, and ethical codes of practice that apply to working with immigrant and refugee individuals, families, and communities
    • Competently manage the ethical dilemmas specific to working with immigrant and refugee populations.
  • Getting to Know the Queer Community & Unpacking Our Bias (weeks 12 - 14) 
    • Improve understanding of LGBTQ+ identities and to build skills for working with LGBTQ youth and their families as well as parents/caregivers and foster parents
    • Learn about the management of homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism
  • Capstone Experience (weeks 15, 16 & reunion visit) 
    • Conceptualize and design a project for unit/team/cluster
    • Workshop idea with faculty mentor and team-mate
    • Present plan to the large group 
    • Implement plan in area office & report back on experience at 6-week graduation ceremony/reunion

The program will consist of a 16-week online seminar series (November-early June). The course uses a blended synchronous/asynchronous format. Participants will engage weekly, 1 hour and 45 minute synchronous Zoom meetings from 6 – 7:45 p.m. (Wednesdays). Participants will also engage in approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes of asynchronous coursework (e.g., online exercises, discussion posts, and assessments) on their own time for a total of four hours of learning per week. Participants will also be expected to read or view course-related materials in advance of synchronous meetings.

In order to obtain a graduation certificate and the maximum number (60) of continuing education units (CEUs) (in social work) for the Certificate in Equity-Minded Practice, program participants must do the following:

·         Attend 90 percent of the synchronous sessions with engaged participation. If participants miss a session, they must complete a written summary of their responses to in-class activities (always posted on Canvas ahead of time). It is expected that participants will not miss more than one synchronous session of the program.

·         Complete 90 percent of the asynchronous modules in a timely manner. If participants miss a session, they must complete their discussion post and readings.

·         Graduation certificates and CEUs can only be awarded for asynchronous work completed and synchronous sessions attended (or made up in the case of a missed session).


Certificate program instructors will be drawn from the full-time and adjunct faculty of the School of Social Work. Below are the four faculty who will teach in the program during the November 2022-June 2023 session:

Shavon Fulcher, LICSW, is the Manager of Professional Development at the Department of Children and Family’s (DCF) Child Welfare Institute. Additionally, she is DCF’s LGBTQIA+ Co-Chair and the RELMA Statewide Administrator.  She is also a Visiting Assistant Professor at Salem State University who teaches a graduate course on diversity, privilege and oppression. Ms. Fulcher has a long career of practicing in the child welfare field, with a specialization in housing.

Kathryn Peterson, MSW, LCSW, is an expert in practice with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities who are involved in the child welfare system. She works as the Plans of Safe Care Coordinator for the Boston Region at the Department of Children and Families (DCF). She serves as an LGBT liaison at DCF for 5+ years and is a project coordinator for the Alliance of Gender Affirming Professionals out of Harvard University. She is a graduate of the master’s program in social work at Salem State University. 

Yvonne Ruiz, MSW, PhD is a professor of social work, is currently serving as Chair of the School of Social Work, and has served as MSW Program Coordinator.  She teaches courses in human behavior in the social environment, and social work practice, with specializations on Latinx, immigrant, and refugee populations.  Dr. Ruiz has clinical experience in medical social work, community mental health, and behavioral health.  As a bilingual and bicultural social worker, Dr. Ruiz integrates equity, anti-oppressive, and social justice approaches in her teaching, scholarship, and practice.

Elspeth Slayter, MSW, PhD, coordinator of the program, is a professor of social work who identifies as a member of the disability community. Dr. Slayter has practiced as a social worker in child welfare, public criminal defense, juvenile justice, disability and education settings. Her equity-focused research and consulting centers around disability, race, and ethnicity in the addiction and child welfare service sectors. She is the co-author of a theoretical practice model that integrates intersectionality, anti-oppressive practice and critical cultural competence frameworks for application to social work with the disability community. She consults with children and family-serving agencies and organizations on disability justice on a regular basis.

In summary, currently, no other post-master’s certificates offered to DCF supervisors and managers in MA focus on equity-minded child welfare practice. This certificate program can support an increase in culturally responsive, intersectional, anti-oppressive, and equitable practices in child welfare. Also, the online teaching modality allows outreach to potential participants across the Commonwealth. The online nature of this certificate program will also foster cross-office collaboration between supervisors and managers, something that was very popular during the first three iterations of this program. 


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