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The Specialized Gerontology (Specialized Gero) Program, 2009-11, funded 16 programs to design, implement, and sustain competency-based gerontology-specific curricular structures as a minor, certificate, specialization, or concentration. The Specialized Gero Program built on and complemented gerontological infusion at the BSW and MSW generalist practice levels.


Prior gerontology (gero) curriculum development projects funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation have prepared social work graduates with gero competencies for generalist practice. The success of this infusion approach, and the maturation of the gero social work field, have fostered student and faculty demand for additional gero competencies at the generalist and advanced levels of practice through specialized gero (also referred to as gero-specific) curricular structures.

The Specialized Gero Program built upon complementary Hartford curricular initiatives: the Geriatric Enrichment in Social Work Education (GeroRich) Program, the Curriculum Development Institute (CDI) Program, and the Hartford Partnership Program for Aging Education (HPPAE, formerly Practicum Partnership Program). Whereas the HPPAE focused on advanced MSW field curriculum, the Specialized Gerontology Program emphasized gero-specific curricular structures at both the BSW and MSW levels.

Funding specialized gero curriculum development is congruent with the 2008 CSWE Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS), which allows BSW and MSW programs to develop specific competencies (e.g., knowledge and practice behaviors) consistent with their mission, goals, and context, in addition to the ten core competencies prescribed by the 2008 EPAS. By supporting the development of gero-specific curricular structures, the Specialized Gero Program aimed to promote graduates’ gero social work careers and leadership by providing them with the competencies they will need to work specifically with older adults.