An important piece of White House gun safety policy and funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) have provided new work for Temple MSW students.

After a rash of school shootings, the President and his team developed an initiative that in part was to reduce gun violence. HRSA saw the opportunity to move toward a goal to build a workforce of social workers who are able to work with children, youth and adolescents who may be at risk for mental health or substance use issues.

“HRSA has taken the grain of that idea, to improve treatment for young people at risk for engaging in harmful behaviors and violence, and developed a grant program to grow the workforce of professionals serving those youth,” said Ryan Villagran, field education coordinator for the Advanced Clinical Education and Interprofessional Training (ACE-IT) Program.

The ACE-IT program gives a $10,000 stipend to participating students in their advanced clinical year of the master’s program in social work. The eligibility bar is set high and the training is rigorous. Students must participate in large-scale trainings three times per semester, on topics such as how to become a trauma-informed professional, which is a big issue in the mental health world right now, says Villagran.

“We’ve done trainings on understanding clinical issues with LGBTQ youth, and the specific challenges that those youths face. We’ve done one on co-occurring disorders and how to help youths who have both a mental health issue and a substance use issue,” he explains, noting that a new focus for this semester’s ACE-IT participants is the integration of behavior and mental health care into primary care settings.

The program organizers’ goal is to have their students become desirable applicants and employees at social service agencies that are serving children, youth and adolescents at risk. “Our hope is that we’re giving them enough clinical training that they’ll be able to be a step above some of their other peers and actually do the work they want to do once they get out there with this target population.”

For information on the program, contact Ryan at 215-204-4945,