Educational Service District 105 (ESD 105) and Heritage University will partner to implement the Yakima Grow Your Own Consortium to offer a Master in Social Work program, focused on school-based social work and mental health.
This new program is intended to help support the great need in our region to fill mental health provider positions by ensuring that local students who are interested in practicing school-based social work and mental health therapy, have access to high-quality programming while remaining close to their communities.
“There are a tremendous number of unfilled mental health provider positions in our region. Training more students who are from our community and will stay and serve our community will go a long way to meeting this need.” said Dr. Andrew Sund, President, Heritage University.
“Heritage University has a strong Bachelor of Social Work Program, but graduates have limited access to in-person MSW programs in Eastern Washington. Because our graduates are so committed to living and working here near their families, going away to graduate school is a barrier for many. This program will train our future social workers to serve children and families in the same communities that they themselves were raised in. We know that they are committed to supporting and improving the lives of the children and families right here. This program will have a lasting effect on the well-being of our region,” said Corey Hodge, Interim Vice President of Student Affairs/ Chair, Social Work Program.
The opportunity to implement this new Master program comes with the announcement that ESD 105 is one of two organizations within Washington State to be awarded with a Mental Health Service Professional Grant through the Department of Education, the other being the University of Washington. This five year grant will provide $1,108,985 annually to support the Yakima Grow Your Own Consortium.
Both organizations will play integral roles in the design, implementation and delivery of this new programming. While Heritage University will be designing the coursework and offering the degree, ESD 105 will be partnering with local school districts to oversee internships. These unique internships will allow program students the opportunity to gain skills in social work and clinical mental health therapy in a school setting. School districts partnering with ESD 105 to host internships include Union Gap, Wapato, Toppenish, Mt. Adams, Granger, Mabton, Grandview, Royal and Wahluke.
This “grow your own” consortium, which has the support of the Yakama Nation, seeks to open pathways for candidates from historically underrepresented groups, such as those who identify as Indigenous and/or Hispanic/Latino. Of this new offering, Emily Nelson, ESD 105 students support director, who will supervise the grant implementation, states, “We believe that representation in school and clinical settings has a positive impact on the success of our Pre-K to 12th grade students. Through the Yakima Grow Your Own Consortium, we seek to help build a more diverse workforce that reflects and connects with our growing student population. We are excited to support the growth of professionals in our region and to help address the workforce shortage in mental health and social work that impacts access to care. ”
Yakima Grow Your Own Consortium is expected to begin enrolling students in Spring 2024.
About ESD 105:
ESD 105 supports 25 public school districts and more than 20 state-approved private and tribal schools in South Central Washington. The agency serves the expressed needs of those schools in coordinating and conducting cooperative programs to benefit the approximately 68,000 K-12 students who are served in Kittitas and Yakima counties and portions of Grant and Klickitat counties. As one of nine ESDs in the state, ESD 105 carries out liaison activities between local school districts, the Washington State Office of Public Instruction, and the State Board of Education.
About Heritage University:
Heritage University is a non-profit, independent, regionally accredited institution of higher education offering undergraduate and graduate education across the state of Washington. Rooted in the homeland of the Yakama Nation, we embrace transformational student-centered education that cultivates leadership and a commitment to the promotion of a more just society. Visit our website, www.heritage.edu.