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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
November 30, 2015
Canadian Excellence

Practicum Planning

The MSW practicum helps provide students with the tools and experiential learning needed to apply social work knowledge and skills in various settings. To plan towards your practicum, the FSW utilizes the Field Placement Portal, which is an online tool that is used to gather students’ information, set-up placement opportunities, and match students for interviews. All students are required to complete a profile to commence the placement planning process, which is outlined in the timeline below.

For deadlines related to practicum planning process, such as when the portal opens, closes, and placement interviews are announced, please visit the Important Dates webpage.

Practicum Planning Process

Before the Portal Opens:

  • *All students receive a Student Guidebook for the upcoming term. Guidebooks outline important information. For Fall placements, the guidebook is sent to students in March. For Winter placements the guidebook is sent to students in August.

Portal Opens:

  • *Students log into the portal to complete their profiles.
  • *After completing profile on the portal, students select and rank their placements in order of interest. Please note that the Practicum Office tries to consider the top ten placements and in most cases will be able to match a student with one of the top ten placements. However, that is not always possible. Students are encouraged to review the Practicum Agreement for more details.
  • *Students are expected to arrange meetings with the Practicum Coordinator or Associate Coordinator at this time to address any concerns about suitability of placements.
  • *Students interested in changing their streams, are advised to do so before the deadline and to ensure their new stream is reflected on the Portal before completing their profiles. Students who had their stream change approved will be considered for a placement in line with their approved stream. 

Portal Closes:

  • *New placement opportunities will be added to the portal until one day before the portal closes.  Students can continue to revisit their 10 placements of interest until this time.
  • *Profile changes or ranking changes will not be considered after the portal closes.
  • *Closing the portal allows the Practicum Office to commence the placement matching process.
  • *Students who do not complete their profiles will be considered for a placement based on their MSW stream and program requirements.
  • *The Practicum Office will work towards matching all students for a placement interview. 

How students are matched for a placement interview:

  • *Placements are not assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis. Placements are not assigned through a random selection or lottery system.
  • *The interests of all students are considered at the same time. Decisions on placing students in any of their top 10 placements are final, and take into consideration many factors including: Accessible Learning plans, proposals for new placements, requirements that agencies communicate to the Practicum Office (this may include an initial meeting of Practicum Coordinators with students prior to a referral for an interview), students' interests and experiences, requirements of the student's MSW program, etc.
  • *The priority of the Practicum Office is to provide students with placements that meet the requirements of their MSW program, field of study, and to ensure an equitable process for all students. 

Portal Re-Opens:

  • *Students who have completed their profiles and registered for the practicum course, will be informed of the placement they are assigned for an interview with through the Portal. These matches are final.
  • *Students contact the agencies, provide their resumes, and arrange for an interview. 
  • *Agencies will confirm the outcome of the interview with the Practicum Office. 
  • *The Practicum Office will inform students of the result of the interview in the 'Placement Record' section of the Portal. 
  • *If an interview is not successful, students will be matched for a second interview with another agency. 

Interview Process & Outcome:

  • *The interviews are intended for practicum instructors to determine whether a student is a good fit for the placement opportunity from a professional and personal perspective.
  • *Placements are competitive. Students will be competing for a placements with other students from various universities.
  • *If a placement is not an appropriate fit, the student will be referred back to the Practicum Office and will be matched with another placement opportunity.
Navigating the Portal

For detailed information on how to navigate the Field Placement Portal, please see the following YouTube Videos or see Appendix A.

1. Accessing the Field Placement Portal

2. Completing Your Profile on the Field Placement Portal

3. Showing Interest in and Ranking Placement Opportunities

Registering for the Practicum Course

All students must be registered in practicum. Students who are not registered for the required practicum course, will not be informed of their assigned placement until they register and/or will be unable to continue in their placement.

Contacting Agencies

To learn more about an agency, please look into the placement information description on the portal, visit the agency’s website or contact for clarification.

Students should not contact an agency or arrange meetings with agency members to learn about the available opportunities, set up an interview or meeting with an agency, or arrange their own placements.

Students may do a general search, propose a new placement, and provide leads to the Practicum Office who will review placements based on several accreditation standards and requirements for MSW level practicum. To ensure an equitable process, the Practicum Office will not approve any placements arranged outside of the aforementioned placement planning process.

Proposing Placements

Students cannot contact agencies to inquire about new or existing placement opportunities or arrange their own placements. Students interested in a particular placement are encouraged to fill out a Placement Proposal Form prior to the posted deadline.

Students who propose a new placement opportunity with an agency that the Faculty has not worked with in the past will be given priority for a placement interview, and will be placed with the agency on the portal.
Students who propose a placement with an agency the Practicum Office has an established relationship with, will be considered along with other students interested in that particular placement.

Any proposed opportunity that becomes available will be uploaded on the portal. If a proposed placement is not posted on the portal when placements are announced, it means the proposed placement will not be available.

If your proposed placement is a possibility (that is, they are willing to interview a Laurier student), the student will be placed with the agency once they log into the portal.

The Practicum Office considers all proposals seriously and will place students at an agency the student has proposed, if possible. Students are expected to submit proposals for agencies they are ready to be placed with.

Workplace Placements

Placements are intended to provide students with new learning opportunities that they have not been exposed to during previous placements or employment. However, students are permitted to request to complete a placement at their current workplace, as long as this "workplace placement" is in a department they have not worked in and is under the supervision of a Practicum Instructor who was/is not their employer. A request for a workplace placement can be considered for one placement only.

Fields of Study

The field of study, or stream, determines the placement opportunities that a student qualifies for. For example an IFG student will not be able to view the placement opportunities open to a CPPO student. In order to ensure your placement is in line with your field of study, students will have the opportunity to request a change to their field of study by the deadline noted in the Important Dates webpage on the practicum website.

Types of Placements based on Field of Study

Field of Study


Types of Placements


Focus on clinical practice in ongoing and short term counselling with individuals, families and groups. Applying a variety of theories, practice methods and models. Learning activities may include clinical assessment work, psychotherapy, intake, crisis intervention, and case managements. Placements may include observation or direct practice this is dependent on the practicum setting and the discretion of the practicum instructor.

Counselling agencies, hospitals, mental health clinics, treatment facilities, child welfare, addictions agencies, nursing homes, and long term care facilities, women’s centres, agencies responding to diversity issues, correctional settings, school boards, and other specialized social service agencies.

IFG Integrated

Emphasis on IFG with a view of facilitating social change via a planned combination and range of theories and social work interventions, practice methods, and models applicable to small and large systems. These placements may or may not include direct practice with individuals. Practice could include information gathering to assist in the development of programs, case management, or service coordination.

Child welfare agencies, community based programs in counselling centres, schools, hospitals, women’s centres, agencies responding to diversity issues, community mental health programs, as well as many organizations listed under IFG service agencies.


Focus on CPPO applying a variety of theories, practice methods and models. Learning activities may include collaborative work in community organizational practice, developing proposals, program planning, implementation, evaluation and relevant research, as well as policy analysis and development where feasible.

Social planning councils, government ministries and services (all levels: political, health and legal), organizations, family service and child welfare agencies, research groups, funding bodies as well as many listed under CPPO integrated placement.

CPPO Integrated

Emphasis on CPPO with a view of facilitating social change via a planned combination and range of theories and social work interventions, practice methods, and models applicable to small and large systems.

Grassroots community agencies including some counselling centres, child welfare, specialized organizations responding to diversity issues, women’s organizations, community mental health projects, specialized programs through schools and hospitals.

Accessible Learning

Students who require academic accommodations for disability-related reasons are encouraged to contact Accessible Learning.  Taking into consideration the student’s consent, Accessible Learning may share the Accommodation Plan with the Practicum Office.

WSIB Forms

Students are required to submit WSIB insurance forms at the start of each practicum, including the Student Declaration of Understanding and the Safety Orientation Checklist. A copy of each must be submitted to the Practicum Office via email (, fax (519.888.9732), or hard copy (brown box across from the elevator on the 4th floor).

Please Note: Students cannot continue in placement if their WSIB forms are not submitted by the deadline.

Please refer to the Important Dates webpage
for the deadline. For instructions on completing the WSIB forms, refer to Appendix B.

Practicum Dates

All practicum start and end dates, as well as evaluation deadlines are outlined on the Dates & Deadlines webpage. For information about missed practicum days, please refer to the Absences, Illnesses, and Critical Events section of this manual.

Winter Reading Week:
Please be advised that as per a policy decision at the Faculty of Social Work Divisional Council meeting on November 20, 1991, MSW students in practicum placement during winter term will be allowed to take Laurier’s reading week, or its equivalent, off of placement. The following conditions or considerations apply:

>  School board students take March break off instead of, not in addition to.

>  Agencies and students may negotiate 4 days off at other times throughout placement as it suits the needs of all concerned.
>  Students may not take the 4 day period at the end of placement as the intention is to maintain the current length of the
    placement period

As the Fall Reading Week is currently in a pilot phase, MSW students are not exempt from their practicum placements at this time.  If students wish to take off the Fall Reading Week, those hours will need to be made up at another time.

Please note:
>  The last day of Practicum for each cohort is outlined on the Dates & Deadlines webpage.
There is no break in students’ practicum between the Winter and Spring terms. 
>  Students cannot complete practicum until they have completed all the required hours and days and are expected to make-up
    any missed practicum hours or days.
Students cannot change their days in placement without a formal request and approval from the Practicum Office.
>  Request for changes to the practicum schedule after the start of a placement will not be considered.

Meeting Deadlines:

If you are unable to meet any of the midterm or final evaluation deadlines, please advise the Practicum Office prior to the due date. Delayed submissions impact the grade entry for students and their ability to register for courses in a timely manner.

Declining a Placement

Students are encouraged to meet with Practicum Staff before the matching process begins to clarify any questions they have about the placements they are interested in. Students have the responsibility to review all placements available before identifying and ranking the placements they are interested in. The Practicum Coordinators consider each of the choices the students make and as a result students should be prepared for a placement in any of the placements they rank.

These procedures are built in place for the benefit of all students and the ability of the Faculty to continue relationships with partnering agencies. Declining a placement after a match has been made is a very challenging request to consider. It impacts the relationships the Faculty has with agencies, how agencies perceive Laurier students in the future, availability of placements, etc. These are all very important considerations in the current climate of competitive MSW placements.

As a result the Practicum Office takes the time to communicate these expectations  prior to the beginning of the program via the Practicum Agreement, and when students start the program via the MSW student manual and our workshops.

How to Decline a Placement

Practicum is a required course, accordingly, any student who wishes to decline the placement after a match has been made is required to submit the Petition to Decline Placement to the Practicum Office via email ( 

Students who have extenuating circumstances as defined in the Petition to Decline Placement, may not be required to submit a Petition.

All students who wish to decline a placement are encouraged to email to request a meeting with the appropriate Practicum Staff in order to assess whether a Petition and supporting documentation are required.