Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

McAllister, Carolyn



Children with developmental disabilities are a particularly vulnerable population with complex, unique needs. In order to ensure that these clients are achieving the best quality of life possible, they typically require an array of community support services where social workers will often intersect with them in a variety of settings and roles. Therefore, there is a substantial need to ensure that student’s entering the workforce as newly qualified workers have some familiarity and exposure to what presenting issues these children are facing as well as the different techniques and tools available to engage with and assess them.

This study examined California State University School of Social Work student’s preparedness, willingness, and eagerness to work with children who have developmental disabilities. It utilized a quantitative approach with a questionnaire that was distributed via the Qualtrics system to student’s emails. A total of 80 social work students participated in the study and answered questions regarding their demographics, familial and curriculum exposure to developmental disabilities, their work experience, and their perceived levels of preparedness, willingness, and eagerness to work with children who have developmental disabilities. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyze the student data collected.

The social work curriculum provided to students in the program is designed with the intent to prepare them for working with a diverse population that have a variety of needs, which will include individuals who have developmental disabilities. In order to effectively do this, it is recommended that courses offer more comprehensive lesson plans exploring not just a definition-based approach to developmental disabilities, but also incorporate elements of effective engagement, advocacy, and assessment methods.

Included in

Social Work Commons