May 06, 2021

Jo Ann R. Regan, dean of the National Catholic School of Social Service, has been named a recipient of a U.S. Fulbright Scholar Award. As part of the award, she will conduct research in the Czech Republic this summer on a project entitled “A Comparison of Social Work Competencies and Standards in the Czech Republic and the United States to Advance Quality Social Work Education.” 

Tatiana Matulayová and Jo Ann R. Regan
Tatiana Matulayová and Jo Ann R. Regan

Regan will be conducting her research in collaboration with Tatiana Matulayová, president of the Association of Educators in Social Work (ASVSP) and faculty at the Department of Christian Social Work at Palacký University in Olomouc, Czech Republic, as well as representatives from Charles University in Prague and Masaryk University in Brno. 

While overseas, she will work closely with the ASVSP, a voluntary association of universities, their components, and other entities that provide education programs in social work, to advance professional standards of social work education while comparing and contrasting the quality assurance processes for these programs in the Czech Republic and the United States. 

Regan chose to study social work competencies in Czech Republic because it is a field that has grown there tremendously in recent decades. 

“Society in the Czech Republic has faced many social challenges since the political changes following the post-communist period beginning in 1989,” she wrote. “With the first educational programs for social workers at the university level being established 25 years ago, social work in the Czech Republic is a flexible profession responsive to the current economic, social, and political conditions of the country.”

Regan noted that social work in both the Czech Republic and the United States are following a trend of “professionalization,” with more attention being paid to accreditation standards and core competencies for social work education and practice. 

“With the growth of newly created educational programs for social workers in both countries, the necessity to determine general quality criteria and professional competencies for social work education has become a priority,” she said. 

“Given Dr. Regan’s background in developing the national social work accreditation standards and competencies in the U.S., we would welcome her participation and consultation on this project to advance the professional preparation of social workers in the CZ,” said Matulayová. “I think we have much to learn from each other about social work education in our countries.”

Regan hopes the findings of her project will be used to “innovate and enhance the professional competencies and quality standards” currently being implemented in both countries. 

“I am excited to do this research as a Fulbright U.S. scholar in the Czech Republic as I would like to advance this work with the support, reputation, and visibility of the Fulbright program,” she said. “This award also provides the opportunity to develop international collaborations for Catholic University and the National Catholic School of Social Service. My family will also be joining me and we look forward to serving as ambassadors for the University and Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program.”