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School Social Work Credentials

School social work is one of the fastest growing areas of social work practice.  

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of child, family, and school social workers is expected to grow by 15 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.

Berkeley Social Welfare offers a curriculum in school social work practice, leading to eligibility for a recommendation for the Pupil Personnel Services Credentials (PPSC), which are issued by the State of California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). The Pupil Personnel Services Credentials authorize individuals to provide school services in grades 12 and below, including preschool, and in classes organized primarily for adults. The PPSC is usually a requirement for employment as a school social worker in California K-12 public schools.

 

The Berkeley Social Welfare PPSC Program

Berkeley Social Welfare’s fully accredited School Social Work Program educates master’s-level social workers to assist public schools in achieving their educational and developmental missions.

  • Current MSW students are eligible to apply for and complete the PPSC Program requirements as part of their MSW degree studies at Berkeley.

  • A Post-Master's PPSC Program option is available for social work professionals who already hold the Master’s in Social Work (MSW) degree from a graduate program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Post-MSW PPSC Program candidates complete the required course work in the summer through Berkeley Summer Sessions, or as availability allows, through University Extension Concurrent Enrollment.

Academic & Field Requirements for the PPSC

Required Coursework

Two courses are required for the PPSC Program:
SOC WEL 232-Social Work and Education Policy (2 units)
SOC WEL 250T-Social Practice in School Settings (2 units)

Because these are required courses in our school social work program as accredited, no transfer credit is accepted, nor waivers granted, for either course.

 

Field Experience Requirements

PPSC-seeking students demonstrate competence in school social work practice by successfully completing 1000 clock hours of field experience. 

Berkeley Social Welfare MSW students satisfy this requirement through a combination of both first and second year MSW field placements. MSW students pursuing the PPS credentials will typically need to have a second year field placement in a school-based setting.  This arrangement is most meaningful in terms of synchronizing required academic course work with field experiences. 

Post-MSW PPSC Program participants must have either completed the necessary field experience requirement for the PPSC while in their MSW program, or after receiving their MSW, or be in the process of completing field experience hours through employment in a public school setting that meets the CTC field experience requirements for the PPS credentials as outlined below. Post-MSW PPSC Program participants are responsible for securing their own internship/field placement to obtain the required field experience.  Berkeley Social Welfare does NOT provide field placements, any liaison assistance, oversight, or liability insurance coverage for post-master’s students, since these program participants do not register or pay for field practicum credit.  

Field Requirements for the Specialization in School Social Work:

  • At least 450 clock hours in a school-based practice setting supervised by a PPSC credential holder
  • At least 100 hours with 10 pupils of an ethnic background different from your own
  • At least 100 hours in each of two age-group settings (preschool, elementary, middle, high school)

Field Requirements for the Add-on Specialization in Child Welfare & Attendance:

  • 150 additional clock hours of field experience under the supervision of a PPSC holder
  • At least 30 of these hours completed in a setting outside the field of education(such as law enforcement, juvenile justice, child health and welfare, mental health, social services, child protective services, community based organizations, etc.)
Credential Prerequisites

LiveScan Fingerprinting

Per the California Education Code fingerprint clearance through both the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is required from every applicant prior to the CTC’s issuance of any credential, permit, certificate, or waiver. PPSC Program students complete the fingerprint clearance process as part of applying for and obtaining the required Certificate of Clearance.  Before you apply for the Certificate of Clearance, you will need to submit verification that you have had your fingerprints taken electronically using the specific form required by CTC. Please note this means you must complete the LiveScan process specifically for the PPSC, even if you have already done it for another agency.

CTC Information on LiveScan Fingerprinting
CTC-specific LiveScan Service Form 41-LS.
Listing of LiveScan Service Sites

 

Certificate of Clearance

Before beginning any school-based field placement that will be used to satisfy PPSC field requirements, credential-seeking students must obtain a Certificate of Clearance (or hold another valid certificate or permit) issued by the CTC. The Certificate of Clearance is a document issued to an individual who has completed the required fingerprint and background check process. 

You should obtain the Certificate of Clearance prior to beginning any school-based field placement hours you wish to have count towards the PPSC field experience requirement.

Individuals who have received fingerprint clearance from a school district, other California state agencies, or in other states are NOT exempt from this requirement.  However, an individual who has already completed the fingerprint process and has been issued a valid document by the CTC is not required to obtain another Certificate of Clearance.  Certificates of Clearance are valid for five years.

Obtaining a Certificate of Clearance is a TWO-STEP PROCESS: FIRST you complete LiveScan fingerprinting (described above), and THEN you apply for the Certificate online through the CTC’s Online Services for Educators.

CTC Information on Certificate of Clearance
Quick Tips for Using the Web Application Process to Apply for Clearance

 

Basic Skills Requirement

In most cases applicants for a credential, certificate, or permit to serve in California public schools must verify basic skills proficiency before the credential, certificate, or permit will be issued.  The basic skills requirement may also be required as a condition of employment in some school districts.

The Basic Skills Requirement is most commonly satisfied by successfully passing the California Basic Education Skills Test (CBEST).  Alternative options accepted by the CTC include the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET): Multiple Subjects Examination, and the CSU Early Assessment Program or CSU Placement Examinations.  The CTC will also accept basic skills examinations from other states, as long as a photocopy of the score report or letter from the testing agency verifying passage of the examination is submitted with the application packet.

For information on all acceptable options for meeting the basic skills requirement, see http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/leaflets/cl667.pdf

California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) Information

Post-MSW PPSC Program

For social work professionals who already hold the Master’s in Social Work (MSW) degree, Berkeley Social Welfare offers a post-master’s PPSC program leading to eligibility for a PPS credential recommentation.

Eligibility

Applicants to this program must have received their MSW degree from a graduate program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and the degree program must have included documented coursework in social work practice with diverse populations.

 

Required Coursework & Field Experience

Credential-seeking candidates in the Post-MSW PPSC program must satisfy all of the same academic, field experience, and program administrative requirements as the regular PPSC program.  The two required courses are taken in the summer through Berkeley Summer Sessions.  In certain cases as availability allows, the required courses may be taken during the regular fall or spring term through University Extension Concurrent Enrollment. However, as the post-master’s PPSC program is primarily a summer program, this option is not guaranteed to be consistently available.

Post-MSW PPSC candidates must have either completed the necessary field experience requirement for the PPSC while in their MSW program, or after receiving their MSW, or be in the process of completing field experience hours through employment in a public school setting that meets the CTC field experience requirements for the PPS credentials. Post-MSW PPSC Program participants are responsible for securing their own internship/field placement to obtain the required field experience.  Berkeley Social Welfare does NOT provide field placements, any liaison assistance, oversight, or liability insurance coverage for post-master’s students, since these program participants do not register or pay for field practicum credit.

Past field experience hours completed prior to acceptance into the Post-MSW PPSC program may be used, pending verification from the Field Supervisor(s) that the hours meet PPSC requirements.  Previous hours will be verified upon acceptance into the Program.  Candidates may also begin accruing PPSC-eligible field experience hours upon acceptance into the Post-MSW PPSC Program.  Post-MSW PPSC candidates must complete all field requirements within three years from acceptance into the Program in order to be eligible to request a credential recommendation.

 

Post-MSW PPSC Program Costs

For the Post-MSW PPSC option there is a non-refundable program fee of $250, payable at the time a complete application package is submitted, to defray costs associated with application processing, transcript evaluation, verifying field experience hours and final evaluation of credential eligibility. 

Registration and course enrollment fees are paid through Berkeley Summer Sessions. For current registration and fee information please visit Berkeley Summer Sessions.

There are additional fees associated with CTC program requirements include the fingerprinting and background check process, CTC application processing fees, and CBEST testing.  See the CTC’s current Fee Information Leaflet at www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/leaflets/cl659.pdf.

 

How to Apply

The deadline to submit an application to the Post-MSW PPSC Program is May 15 each year prior to the start of Berkeley Summer Sessions, or until the required courses reach their enrollment limit.  We encourage applicants to submit materials in plenty of time to be notified of acceptance well in advance of enrollment for Summer Sessions courses, which generally begins in early February each year.

Applicants to the Post-MSW PPSC Program must submit the following in one complete package:

  • A completed Post-MSW PPSC Program Application and Applicant Goal Statement.  
  • A non-refundable program fee check for $250, made payable to “UC Regents.”
  • If field experience hours HAVE been completed:
    A completed Post-MSW PPSC Program Field Experience Verification and Evaluation Form, submitted by the verifying Field Instructor/PPSC Supervisor. 

Or

  • If field experience hours have NOT been completed:
    Verification that field experience hours are in progress, generally provided in the form of a letter of reference from the PPSC supervisor(s), on agency letterhead.
  • Transcripts documenting all completed college and university course work:  An official transcript is required for documenting conferral of the MSW degree; an official transcript documenting conferral of a baccalaureate degree is also required if that degree is not noted on the MSW degree transcript. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable for all other coursework.

Post-MSW PPSC Program Application
Post-MSW PPSC Field Experience Verification & Evaluation Form

Email electronic copies of application materials and other documents to socwelf@berkeley.edu.

Submit hard copies and program fee checks by mail to:

Berkeley Social Welfare
ATTN: ACADEMIC COORDINATOR
120 Haviland Hall, #7400
Berkeley, CA 94720-7400

Application forms and other materials may also be dropped off in person at the Social Welfare Dean’s Office, 120 Haviland Hall, during regular business hours.

FAQ about School Social Work & the PPSC

What is the PPSC and why would I want or need it?
Pupil Personnel Services Credentials (PPSC) issued by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (aka “the “) authorize individuals to provide school services as school social workers, and/or school child welfare and attendance regulators. The PPS credential is usually a requirement for employment as a school social worker in California K-12 public schools.

What is the job outlook for school social workers?
Employment of child, family, and school social workers is currently expected to grow by 20 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. In schools, more social workers will be needed to respond to rising student enrollments. Availability of funding will be a major factor in determining the actual employment growth in schools.

What does it take to earn the PPSC? What classes do I need to take?
In addition to the core and concentration requirements of the MSW program, students seeking the PPSC must complete two additional required credential courses: SOC WEL 250T-Social Work Practice in School Settings, and  SOC WEL 232-Social Work and Education Policy.

Do PPSC students have specific field placement requirements?
Yes.
PPSC-seeking students typically need to have a second year field placement in a school-based setting.  You must successfully complete 1000 clock hours of field experience [combination of both first and second year MSW field placements].  At least 450 clock hours are in school-based practice supervised by a credentialed practitioner, of which a minimum 100 hours are with at least 10 pupils of an ethnic background different from that of the candidate.  The school assignment is provided in at least two of four age groups (preschool, elementary, middle, high school), with a minimum of 100 clock hours at each setting, which can include district services and programs or alternative school settings.

What additional  prerequisites are required by the CTC?
The additional program requirements are:  1) LiveScan fingerprinting/background check and Certificate of Clearance issued by the CTC; 2) satisfaction of the Basic Skills Requirement, usually done by taking and passing the CBEST (California Basic Education Skills Test); and 3) verification of meeting required standards, which is done by completing required evaluations.

How much does it cost?
There are no additional fees or tuition imposed by Berkeley Social Welfare for current MSW students in the PPSC program.  There is a $250 program fee charged to participants in the Post-MSW PPSC program. There are fees associated with CTC requirements (fingerprinting and background check; application processing fees payable to CTC; CBEST testing fees, etc.) For current CTC fee information please see the CTC’s Fee Information Leaflet at www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/leaflets/cl659.pdf.

Who is eligible to apply to the PPSC program?
Current Berkeley Social Welfare MSW students in all concentration areas except Gerontology may apply.  Students in the Management and Planning (MAP) concentration must have field placements that fulfill the PPSC requirements pre-approved by Field Consultants that oversee both the MAP and PPSC programs.

How and when do I apply? When do I have to decide?
The PPSC Program Application and Goal Statement is due MARCH 1st each year. Acceptance into the PPSC program is contingent on having secured field placements that will allow you to complete the necessary field experience, so you should decide if you wish to pursue the PPSC by the time you accept your second year field placement.

Can students in the Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program obtain a PPSC?
PPSC students typically do not also participate in the Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program.  Under limited circumstances, however, it may be possible but not guaranteed for some Title IV-E students to jointly earn the PPS credential.  These candidates must meet particular eligibility criteria, including a full review and approval by the School Social Work Steering Committee.  Consult with the Title IV-E Program Coordinator and the current School Social Work Committee Chair if you are a IV-E program participant interested in the PPSC.

Can student in the MSW/MPH joint degree program obtain a PPSC?
Yes; however, careful planning and consultation with faculty advisors is essential to successfully completing all program requirements.

If I decide not to obtain a PPSC while I am in the MSW program can I get it later?
Yes, you may apply to the Post-MSW PPSC Program Option (see page 13). 

What is the Certificate of Clearance and how do I get it?
The Certificate of Clearance is a document issued by the CTC to an individual who has completed the required LiveScan fingerprint and background check process.  You get it by applying online with CTC for it once you have completed the LiveScan fingerprinting process. You must obtain the Certificate prior to beginning your school-based field placement.

What if I have a conviction on my record?
When you apply with CTC Online Services for your Certificate of Clearance, you will be asked a series of professional fitness review questions. The CTC will evaluate your fitness to be granted a credential based on your answers to the professional fitness questions and a criminal history review. Failure to disclose any required information may result in the CTC rejecting or denying your application.  For more information see “How to Complete the CTC Online Professional Fitness Questions” available online at http://www.ctc.ca.gov/educator-discipline/files/prof-fitness-instructions.pdf.

Can I use the fingerprints I provide for the CTC Certificate of Clearance for my internship or other jobs, or vice versa?
No:
agencies/organizations requiring fingerprinting and background checks (including school districts, and other California state agencies) require you to follow their specific procedure, and the results are confidential. Agencies requiring background checks may not share the results reported to them with each other or  anyone else. 

What is the CBEST exam?  When should I take it?  What is considered passing ?
The California Basic Education Skills Test (CBEST) is the most common exam used to satisfy the Basic Skills Requirement for the PPSC credentials.  We recommend that PPSC candidates take the CBEST in the summer between the first and second years of the MSW program.  We cannot submit your credential recommendation to CTC until you have passed the CBEST, even if you have completed all other requirements.  The passing score on each CBEST section (Reading, Mathematics, and Writing) is a scaled score of 41; a total score (the sum of Reading, Mathematics, and Writing scaled scores) of 123 is required to pass.  The CBEST may be taken as many times as necessary until a passing score is achieved.  For more information, please see http://www.cbest.nesinc.com/.

I am having trouble with the CTC Online site.  How can I get help?
There are several common, known issues with using CTC Online services, including web browser compatibility and pop-up blockers.  If you experience problems using CTC Online, please contact webmaster@ctc.ca.gov.

Resources for PPSC Students & Applicants