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April 4 , 2007
DH 07 JH48
Contact: Joanie Harmon-Whetmore
New MSW Program Growing With Partnership with Nationally Recognized Family Agency, Candidacy for Accreditation
Carson, CA - While in only its second semester on the CSU Dominguez Hills campus, the Master of Social Work (MSW)
program in the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) has achieved candidacy towards accreditation
from the Council on Social Work Education. In addition, the program will partner with SHIELDS for
Families, Inc. (SHIELDS), a nonprofit, community-based agency serving families affected by substance
abuse and child abuse, to provide an accelerated MSW degree for its employees.
Kathryn Icenhower, founder and executive director of SHIELDS, is enthusiastic about the opportunity to
work with the University to develop her staff, many of whom are from the South Central Los Angeles,
Watts-Willowbrook and Compton communities they serve and are alumni of the SHIELDS substance abuse program.
She emphasizes the agency’s need for master level and master level bilingual staff.
“A lot of our staff want to go back to school but can’t afford to decrease their
time at work or take the time to go back," she says. "This allows us to really build the capacity of our community.”
Icenhower established SHIELDS 17 years ago in response to the high rate of prenatal exposure to drugs in
infants born at Martin Luther King Jr./Charles R. Drew Medical Center in South Central Los Angeles. In 1997,
the organization was presented with a special recognition award from the White House Office of National Drug
Control Policy, and in 1998, it received the Inaugural Athena Award for the State of California from the
International Athena Foundation in recognition of its efforts to empower women in the community.
Larry Ortiz, chair of the Department of Social Work and director of the MSW program, met Icenhower when MSW
faculty were contracted to do program evaluation for a SHIELDS project with First 5 L.A. A brainstorming session
led to the idea of an accelerated weekend program, which will begin this fall, that would provide SHIELDS employees
the opportunity to earn their MSW in 36 months.
Icenhower said the appeal of the collaboration with the University was about more than a degree.
“We are very appreciative of Dominguez Hills being willing to work for us with this innovative idea and the
contribution that it will make to the community,” she says. “This partnership shows the University’s willingness
to fit its community instead of the community fitting them.”
Ortiz agreed, saying “Programs like the SHIELDS partnership are part of what the University is interested in doing,
and part of what we want to do in the MSW program. One of our specialties is community capacity building. The students
from SHIELDS are mostly people from that community, and a fairly diverse group that will have achieved a higher level
of education, which is important to enhance human and social capacity in communities.”
With the affiliation with SHIELDS and the achievement of candidacy for accreditation, a 3 to 4-year process,
Ortiz said he is optimistic about the growth of the MSW program. Students who are currently in the first class
will have their degrees grandfathered in when full accreditation is achieved in 2009 or 2010. In addition, the
department is preparing for its second class, which will be admitted in the fall, and a new part-time program
with the hiring of new faculty soon.
For more information about the SHIELDS for Families, Inc., visit shieldsforfamilies.org. To learn more about the
CHHS Master of Social Work program, click here.
Dominguez Hills - University Communications & Public Affairs
1000 E. Victoria Street
Carson, CA 90747