Social Work receives federal funding to expand substance use disorder workforce in Michigan

The Wayne State University School of Social Work has been selected to participate in the Council for Social Work Education’s (CSWE) Substance Use Disorders Expansion of Practitioner Education in Social Work (Prac-Ed) program. Funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), this program will work to strengthen the delivery of effective, evidence-based substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery services by Wayne State Social Work graduates.

According to a national survey conducted by the SAMHSA, an estimated 164.8 million people aged 12 or older in the United States (60.2 percent) used tobacco, alcohol and/or illicit drugs in the past month (2018). As social workers we are ideally suited to understand the impact of SUD from the individual, family and community perspectives and provide resources to improve not only individual wellbeing, but that of our entire community.

The School’s participation in the Prac-Ed program strengthens our commitment to provide rich and compelling learning experiences that aid in developing professional competence and prepare students to uphold the core values of the social work profession, especially those related to SUD which so gravely impacts our Detroit community.” - Suzanne Brown

Suzanne Brown and Anwar Najor-Durack headshot
From left: Suzanne Brown and Anwar Najor-Durack

Lead by Associate Professor Suzanne Brown and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Anwar Najor-Durack, Prac-Ed will expand the current curriculum to include high-quality standardized SUD curriculum based on competencies from the Council on Social Work Education’s Substance Use Curricular Guide. It will include didactic material, plug and play modules to help students build clinical skills related to SUD treatment and prevention, and field placement support to enhance students’ field experiences in the area of SUD treatment and prevention. These new activities will enhance our current curriculum development activities and continue to enhance our reputation as the social work practice school providing hands-on training for Michigan’s future social service ecosystem.

The Prac-Ed program is not the School’s first foray into large-scale student training programs. Brown and Najor-Durack have also collaborated with additional Wayne State faculty, departments and community agencies on multiple federal and stated funded training grants. The School currently hosts the HRSA funded Trauma Informed Integrated Healthcare-the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Grant (BHWET), which works to increase the comprehensiveness of patient care, especially in medically underserved communities. While the SAMHSA funded Opioid Workforce Education and Training Program (OWEP) develops and increases the number of behavioral health professionals trained to address the current national opioid and substance use crisis by advancing the clinical practice for social work students with emphasis on populations at risk for developing or who have developed a recognized opioid or substance abuse disorder. Brown and Najor-Durack are tapping into the expertise of the BHWET and OWEP grant project managers and MSW alums, Kristi Price and Eric Shimmel, to manage the implementation of the Prac-Ed program into field placements.

We understand the value of providing both in-depth curriculum in the classroom and hands-on field experiences at one of our 300 field agencies across the Metro Detroit area. This collaborative type of learning provides an opportunity for our graduates to take specialized training from the classroom and apply it to empower social change where we need it most. We are working diligently to train the next generation of change agents and advance the CSWE Grand Challenge of closing the health gap. Programs like Prac-Ed will not only benefit our students today, but also improve the lives of Detroiters for generations to come. – Anwar Najor-Durack

For additional information on how you can support Prac-Ed, contact Kristi Price ( or Eric Shimmel (

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