The California Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI) program was established with the mission to enhance equitable access to healthcare for all Californians, facilitated by modernized healthcare facilities, current health data, and a robust workforce across various communities. Within the framework of HCAI, the Social Work Education Capacity Expansion (SWECE) Grant Program was developed to equip individuals in postsecondary education with the requisite training to address the behavioral health workforce demands. Through HCAI funding, SWECE awards stipends to 25 students in the full-time MSW program at UCLA. These students undertake internships in health and behavioral health facilities, acquiring competencies to serve communities focusing on youth and children up to the age of 25, along with their families.

The SWECE Grant Program at UCLA Social Welfare distributes these stipends over the course of the students’ two-year educational program. Notably, the program does not require a repayment obligation upon its stipend awardees. Upon completion of the SWECE Stipend Program at UCLA, graduates are expected to have honed their abilities to cater to the multifaceted and dynamic needs of California’s most marginalized communities, fostered professionalism within themselves, and engaged with community specialists via panels and workshops, thereby enriching their professional and practical knowledge base.

If you are a MSW candidate with a strong interest in pursuing a career in the health and behavioral healthcare sector, the SWECE Stipend Program presents an opportunity to subsidize your education. SWECE is constituted as a two-year stipend program, providing financial assistance up to $17,500, ($2,500 in Year 1 and $15,000 in Year 2 – $7,500 each Winter/ Spring). Stipend recipients will receive tailored and supportive mentorship from the stipend coordinator. It is important to highlight that recipients of this stipend are not required to fulfill a repayment commitment, financially and occupation-wise, after graduation. It is imperative to acknowledge, however, that participation in the HCAI SWECE Stipend Program does not secure employment within the health care setting for the MSW candidate upon completion.

SWECE endeavors to attract students whose backgrounds and aspirations align with the needs and diverse characteristics of underserved communities. Our Stipend Program has a preferential consideration for candidates demonstrating a robust commitment to serving these populations within health/behavioral health care environments.

First, candidates must be admitted into the UCLA MSW two-year program. Subsequent to acceptance, all admitted and interested students are sent a HCAI SWECE stipend application. It is strongly recommended that candidates expressing a dedication to working with underserved youth, children, and their families, in addition to working in behavioral healthcare settings, submit their applications.

Students must be full-time in the MSW program (MSW-only and/or dual degree). Full-time is considered two years.

There is a two-part application process that involves a written application and an oral interview. Generally, in this process, interested applicants must complete the written application by mid-to-late May and complete the oral interview late-May or early-June.

Written: The application includes questions about your understanding of HCAI SWECE requirements as well as your goals in behavioral health care settings.

Oral: The interview will explore your interest and experience working with underserved youth, children, and their families within behavioral health care settings. The oral interview panelists may include Health and Mental Health Across the Lifespan Area of Concentration (HMHAL AoC) faculty and HCAI SWECE Stipend staff.

The preliminary selections are confirmed by the HCAI SWECE Awards Committee. Official HCAI SWECE award notifications are determined no later than July.

HCAI SWECE students must be part of the Health and Mental Health Across the Lifespan Area of Concentration (HMHAL AoC). They will participate in all generalist social welfare classes and then specialize in children, youth and families in addition to taking specialized HCAI SWECE courses.

  • Many elective courses are available to enhance your education.

These other requirements prepare you for working in the behavioral health settings:

  • Advanced practice with a focus on behavioral health welfare
  • Integrated seminar with a focus on behavioral health welfare
  • Advanced policy with a focus on behavioral health welfare
  • Field education placement in health and mental health settings

HCAI SWECE placements are typically within the greater Los Angeles County area. Types of sites students could expect to join include behavioral health settings including medical/hospital settings, outpatient mental health clinics, non-profit settings, LA County Department of Mental Health sites, LACDMH contracted sites, schools, and others.

The initial year of placement frequently involves engagement with child, youth, and family mental health, as well as community organizations that are dedicated to serving underrepresented youth and family populations, occasionally in school or health care settings. Second year placements, being the specialized year, will be based on student interest and self-identified agencies.

No, we only offer a full-time program at this time. The full-time program consists of two years.

Please refer to this flyer on commonly asked questions regarding the HCAI SWECE Public Behavioral Health Stipend.

Please note: HCAI SWECE Stipend is not affiliated with any external HCAI funding, including their HCAI Behavioral Health Scholarship Program (BHSP). Though, the above flyer has resources so you may reach out to their appropriate Scholarship Program staff.

Health and Mental Health Placements

The following list represents example sites utilized by HCAI SWECE program, derived from our historical affiliations with health and mental health agencies. It is pertinent to note that the specific agencies participating may vary annually. Placement of students in their first year is orchestrated by the field education team. For their second year, students, in collaboration with their field liaison, select their placement subsequent to an evaluative interview procedure. Being the specialized year, second year placements will be based on student interest and self-identified agencies.

The Department of Social Welfare assigns HCAI SWECE students in behavioral health settings including medical/hospital settings, outpatient mental health clinics, non-profit settings, LA County Department of Mental Health sites, LACDMH contracted sites, schools, and others. For their subsequent year placements, students are anticipated to undertake their internships in comparably aligned settings.

Internships during the initial year are classified as foundational, with a primary focus on direct (micro) practice. It is a requirement for students to engage in a comprehensive set of tasks or undertake a distinctive project during the first-year internship that encompasses macro-level (advocacy, administrative, etc.) activities. In their second year, interns are provided with the opportunity to deepen their understanding of health and mental healthcare services within these local communities.

Clinical Health and Mental Health Speaker Series

All UCLA faculty participate in the training of HCAI SWECE Stipend Program students, ensuring that the curriculum aligns with practical requirements. The Behavioral Health Curriculum Committee, comprising Laura Wray-Lake, Ph.D., Toby Hur, L.C.S.W., David Cohen, Ph.D., and Michelle Talley, L.C.S.W., oversees the specialization requirements.

The HCAI SWECE Clinical Series offers students a comprehensive exploration of issues encountered in field placements and academic settings, facilitated through workshops and panels with community experts. These sessions aim to enhance our students’ both actual and perceived clinical competencies in addressing complex challenges faced by children, youth, and their families in underserved communities, with a focus on developing professional skills.

The workshops and panels, led by experts in behavioral health, will commence in Fall 2024. Further details regarding the presentation topics for our HCAI SWECE Stipend students will be made available closer to the date.

Contact Us

Amy Tinoco
SWECE Student Affairs Officer

Erin Nakamura, L.C.S.W.
SWECE Instructor and Practicum Work Consultant

Latoya Small, PhD, MSW
SWECE Principal Investigator

Susan Lares-Nakaoka, PhD, MSW, MA
Director of Practicum Education