Janet E. Black

Shaper of social work education

A central force in the advancement of social work education throughout California, Janet E. Black has championed high academic achievement, innovative teaching methods, and valuable field education experiences as critical to producing highly qualified social work professionals.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Whittier College and her master of social work from USC in 1971, Black spent 14 year at Sepulveda Veterans Administration Hospital, where she rose through the ranks to become chief of long-term care, ensuring that the needs of veterans and their families were met. In 1985, she took a position at California State University, Long Beach, serving as professor, director of field education, and interim director of the Department of Social Work. As Director of Field Education, Black created an innovative model involving field seminars for all students, ongoing trainings for field supervisors and preceptors at multiple sites, learning labs to prepare students for their field experience, and large-scale events to honor field instructors or preceptors and their agencies. Within five years, she had opened 500 placements, including those in the Distance Education program on four CSU campuses: Channel Islands, Chico, Hayward (now East Bay), and Humboldt.

An early advocate of distance education, she worked with other pioneers to develop multiple MSW programs throughout the California State University system, helping to train social workers in remote and rural neighborhoods that previously lacked skilled professionals. In this work, she emphasized that student field placements should provide optimal opportunities for growth and experience.

She later served as a consultant to the California Social Work Education Center, known as CalSWEC, to promote the development of competent practitioners in mental health care. Black’s responsibilities included assisting with curriculum development, designing and presenting training seminars throughout California, creating mental health competencies to be used by schools of social work, contributing to the development of the CalSWEC website, and other mental health-related activities. Her work ensured that schools of social work in California developed curricula with direct relevance for students planning to work in the public mental health system. In her role with CalSWEC, she has helped secure millions of dollars for student stipends.

Black also played a vital role in securing a grant from the Southern California Regional Partnership to develop core competencies for nine counties in Southern California related to mental health services. She led multiple focus groups with front-line staff members to increase the quality of care provided to individuals, family members, and stakeholders served by member agencies in the region.

Black has served on the Council on Social Work Education’s National Commission on Field Education, the Los Angeles City/County Area Agency on Aging Task Force, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health’s Older Adults Task Force, and on the board of directors of Campfire Boys and Girls of Los Angeles.

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