Starting in September, county employees and a few members of the public will be able to work toward a USC master’s degree in social work in Ventura County.
The program, approved Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, will enable 20 county workers and three non-employees to obtain the advanced degree after three years of part-time study.
County Personnel Director Ronald W. Komers said the program will develop badly needed professional social workers to help with the county’s emerging problems.
“Our county has the potential for increased homelessness, ethnic and racial tensions, and continuing unemployment of unskilled workers unless we help those in need with effective support programs,” Komers said.
The supervisors allocated $90,000 to help pay the first semester’s tuition of county employees enrolled in the program.
A total of at least $336,000 will be needed as the county’s share of the cost over three years, Komers said.
Students will pay part of their tuition and will promise to stay on the county payroll for five to seven years after receiving their degrees. Those who leave will be expected to repay all their tuition.
Rino Patti, dean of USC’s School of Social Work, said senior faculty members will be assigned to teach in the program.
Eventually, he said, he hopes to expand the Ventura classes to include students from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
Kim Voyle, the county’s manager of career development, said 65 staff members have already applied for the program.