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Social Work Practice with Latinos Specialization

Purpose Statement

The Social Work Practice with Latinos Specialization aims to prepare social workers to work with Hispanic/Latino Communities in a variety of clinical, community, and social service settings. Through the courses in the specialization, students will deepen their awareness and understanding of the historical, political, economic, community, social, and cultural contexts of Latinos/Latinas. Students will also critically examine the variety of practice frameworks, socio-ecological concepts and theories, and cultural constructs that inform culturally-competent social work practice with diverse Latino and Latina individuals, groups, and communities. Through a field component, students pursuing the specialization will be able to demonstrate skills at working effectively with the Latino population in a variety of settings.


  • To analyze the historical, social, political and economic influences on Latino populations and communities, and their impact on civic and social participation in society. 
  • To apply specialized knowledge, skills, values and attitudes for effective clinical, community, and organizational practice with Latino populations.
  • To demonstrate an understanding of historical and current immigration policies, immigrant rights and responsibilities, and legal precedents essential for analyzing policy and advocating for human rights.
  • To use skills in assessment, planning, intervention and evaluation of client needs using evidence based theory and practice methods, as well as traditional alternative approaches with diverse Latino populations.
  • To demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of critical concepts, terminology, frameworks and paradigms that define best practices with Latino populations in macro and micro settings.

Unique Opportunities and Recent Programs

  • The Global Leaders of Behavioral-health Education (GLOBE) program at the GCSW prepares students for advanced practice in behavioral health with vulnerable populations through training and financial support for each semester in which students are enrolled in field education.  The majority of students in the GLOBE program focus their training on delivering services to Latino/a clients and through field practica in agencies that serve large numbers of Latinos/as.
  • George Foundation Scholarships are provided to bilingual English-Spanish students from Fort Bend County who are committed to continuing their professional development in Fort Bend and to working with Latino/a clients. The award covers full tuition, fees, a living expense stipend and a book stipend.  Students complete their fieldwork in Fort Bend and make a commitment to working in the county for two years post-graduation, serving Latino/a clients.
  • Students are able to participate in Study Abroad Programs to Latin America organized by our GCSW Latin American Initiative. We have conducted intensive, enriching, and highly rewarding Study Abroad Programs to El Salvador and Bolivia, and are planning Study Abroad Programs to Mexico, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Puerto Rico over the next four years. These innovative opportunities allow students to integrate classroom theoretical learning with real life application to demonstrate social work skills effectively with the Latino population, as well as to develop fluency in professional and clinical language in both English and Spanish. The Study Abroad program increases student understanding of social justice issues impacting populations in Spanish speaking countries around the world. Elective study abroad courses take place in the summer and usually last 10 – 14 days.
  • Membership in the GCSW Hispanic Student Association allows for students to participate in creative professional development activities and networking opportunities geared to create awareness of critical social justice issues affecting Hispanic/Latino/Latina populations. Recent activities include service projects to promote education in underserved communities, mobilizing the Latino community through civic engagement, and hosting movie screenings to create awareness of human rights issues facing the Latino population.

Affiliated Faculty

Jodi Berger Cardoso
Isabel Torres

Elective Courses (Choose Three)

SOCW 7316: Clinical Social Work Practice with Latinos/as

SOCW 7321: Multicultural Practice

SOCW 7326: Disparities in Health

SOCW 7352: Social Work Practice with Latino Immigrants

SOCW 7360: GCSW Latin American Initiative Study Abroad Courses

SOCW 7393: Practice in Latino Communities

Field Criteria

Field sites should enable students to gain macro or clinical practice experience in agencies that provide services to Hispanic clients, defined as individuals, families, groups, communities, or policy settings. Students are encouraged to select sites where they can provide services to bilingual Hispanic clients. 

Agencies should be selected on the basis of their history, expertise, and staff skilled in service delivery to Hispanic clients to enable students to practice skills learned in the specialization courses. 

Field instruction should include focused tasks and competencies that integrate knowledge and proficiency with culturally specific models, approaches and procedures. 

Field Instructor experience and expertise with culturally competent service delivery to Latino/a clients and communities is preferred. 

Multiple field instruction sessions should include discussion of the role of culture and cultural values in how clients understand their presenting problem(s) and treatment options, and how organizations can be more responsive to client culture and context. 

Common settings may be Hispanic and primarily non-Hispanic serving agencies that provide substantial services to Latino/a clients or communities.