For Samaritan Daytop Village’s (SDV) employees who have an interest in addiction treatment and are seeking to enhance their academic credentials, Stony Brook University’s School of Social Welfare (SSW) will provide an academic pathway for them to do so through a newly developed program.
This program, known as Social Work Opportunities for Leadership in Addiction and Recovery (SOLAR), will give students the opportunity to obtain their master’s of social work degree while simultaneously creating a joint leadership academy with traditional coursework and unique mentorship opportunities in clinical and academic settings. The program is intended to further the education of SDV employees, improve client services and address workforce shortages in the addiction services sector of healthcare.
A two-year $500,000 grant that was awarded to SDV from the New York Community Trust’s Investing in Social Work’s Future: Collaboration, Innovation, Impact initiative will support the partnership between the SSW and SDV, creating the joint project, SOLAR. SOLAR will offer an MSW education track that is customized to fit the career, interests, and work schedules of the staff working at SDV, and will serve as a model to be expanded to other health and human services agencies.
Over the past two years, SSW and SDV partnered to establish social work student internships that focused on developing highly skilled social workers to be ready to enter into agency settings that provide addiction services. Through that partnership, SDV hosted eight Opioid Workforce Enhancement Fellows, students who received federal funding from the New York Community Trust that was facilitated by the National Council on Behavioral Health, to participate in specialized education in addiction services.
SOLAR is a one-of-kind workforce development opportunity rooted in two esteemed institutions. Stony Brook University was recently named one of two State University of New York flagship universities by Governor Kathy Hochul, setting the standard for research and academic excellence globally. Students benefit greatly by earning a degree from a nationally and internationally recognized and respected institution. Samaritan Daytop Village is a recognized leader in non-profit health and human service, providing access to integrated care that addresses a range of healthcare needs, including housing, addiction and mental health treatment, support, and connections to community resources.
Ultimately, SOLAR will provide education to strengthen SDV’s workforce to meet the needs of people who are served by their agency, while also helping to address significant workforce shortages that have impacted health and human services organizations.
“The SOLAR program was designed with the unique needs of this workforce in mind. We hope that it serves as a model that can be expanded statewide to additional recovery programs as well as similarly dedicated workforces,” said Melissa J. Earle, director of Online Instruction and project director for the SOLAR program.
The students participating in this program will have the opportunity to attend online MSW classes synchronously through Zoom. They will be able to develop and follow a course schedule that accommodates their own work schedules. Additionally, students will be helped through this entire process by an assigned academic advisor who will guide them and help them to maintain a healthy work/life balance. The students will be interning within SDV’s portfolio of programs and will be enrolled in the SDV/SBU Leadership Academy, a non-credit course that addresses the development of leadership skills that are needed to advance students’ careers and to help them lead agencies in delivering health and human services to the community.
“The development of a workforce that is qualified and credentialed to address substance use disorder as well as co-occurring medical and mental disorders will have significant implications for our ability to address the ongoing opioid crisis and to reach the full potential of healthcare integration,” said James Hollywood, vice president of Residential Treatment at Samaritan Daytop Village.
For more information, contact Melissa J. Earle at Melissa.Earle.firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Jennifer Davidson