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FHS' community impact eclipses $20M

Students in the College of Education's Family and Human Services (FHS) program have been busy. Since 1998 the program has seen 1,554 students who, as a matter of course, have contributed 883,140 hours of work with vulnerable members of the Eugene/Springfield community and into the rest of Lane County. The value of their work has now surpassed the $20 million mark - $20,385,113.40 to be exact.

"FHS students provide a wonderful contribution to the community," said Benedict McWhirter, department head for Counseling Psychology and Human Services. "More importantly, like all students in our department and in the College of Education, their work is embedded in first critically analyzing the problems facing society and the limitations of our structures to solve such problems. Students learn about the research evidence that supports best-practices in their field, and they take this knowledge with them in their field work. FHS is an exceptional example of experiential learning."

FHS majors help children, youth, adults, and families address issues in their lives. Students learn to analyze and develop ways to create a seamless system of community care for children and families. The program focuses on providing a broad understanding of learning and intervention, professional communication, prevention, and agency policy and practices. Graduates can pursue a career in a variety of fields, including child protection services, juvenile justice, corrections, mental health, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and treatment, and education. Some opt to conduct research or obtain an advanced degree in areas such as special education, social work, counseling psychology, and family therapy.

Kelly Warren is the assistant program director and field placement coordinator for the program. Years ago she devised a methodology to estimate the program's economic impact: She takes the number of students from each cohort over time and multiplies that by the 570 hours of field work they contribute during their time in the program (270 junior intern, 240 senior intern, 60 senior project). That total is then multiplied by the national value of volunteer work (in current dollars) for the most recently published year as reported by Independent Sector.

This is the first year she's been able to include the eight Early Childhood Education emphasis students in her calculation. Each student in the FHS program has a current total financial impact of $13,149.90; this academic year the program will welcome 237 students between two cohorts (129 seniors and 108 juniors).