For nearly a century, the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work has built its identity around the strong community ties that shaped its earliest years. The school’s Office of Field Education keeps those bonds strong by maintaining connections with more than 500 human and social service organizations. With such a varied and diverse group of partners, the school is able to provide students with more than 250,000 cumulative hours of internship experience annually.
ChildSavers, formerly Memorial Child Guidance Clinic, is one such partner who has worked with the school to provide students with hands-on experience. Founded in 1924, ChildSavers is a community-supported nonprofit agency committed to providing comprehensive mental health and child development services for children.
ChildSavers works to improve the mental and emotional health of children and families through both cognitive and play therapies and provides education and mentorship for area childcare providers. In addition to these two programmatic areas, ChildSavers provides immediate response and trauma-informed counseling services for children exposed to traumatic events.
Not only does ChildSavers provide the Richmond community with much needed resources, but they also provide students with the field experiences that they need to grow as social workers.
“I had worked in the nonprofit world before, but decided to go back to school to build my clinical skills. VCU and ChildSavers has helped me do that,” said Sana Khalid, M.S.W. student and ChildSavers intern.
Every year, ChildSavers works with VCU to provide field experiences for 3 Master of Social Work interns. Each student complete 21 intern hours a week and participates in weekly peer and intern supervision sessions as well as individual supervision where they receive feedback that is commensurate with their experiences and targeted to help them grow as professional social workers.
Audrey Leonard, a current M.S.W. student and intern at ChildSavers said that it is through her education and these real life experiences that allow her to better understand what it means to be a social worker.
“It is our opportunity at ChildSavers to help create the clinicians for the future who will be serving our community’s children and families. They are touching lives and helping children to have hope and resilience. Our interns help us as professionals see our work through new eyes; our program is made better through our relationship with our interns,” said John Richardson-Lauve, ChildSavers Guidance Clinic and Trauma Response Program Manager.