Field Practicum

The Field Practicum experience at Vanguard University provides the junior or senior psychology major with applied field settings and opportunities for “hands-on” learning. Field Practicum was designed to provide those students hoping to enter human services professions with opportunities for applied learning in which they can relate “academic” knowledge to real-life situations.

Students select an agency (such as one from the following list) where they volunteer a minimum stipulated number of hours per week or semester. In turn, the agency provides “on-location” training and monitors the student’s progress in executing assignments, interactions, and exposure to the profession itself.

IMPORTANT: The student who is considering enrolling in Field Practicum should first contact the coordinating professor, Dr. Julie Howard, at Ideally, this contact would take place the semester prior to the anticipated enrollment in Field Practicum. In order to complete the required number of practicum hours, it is strongly recommended that students secure a practicum site prior to the first class session. Those students who do not obtain practicum placements within the first two weeks of the class have a difficult time completing hours. To illustrate the difficulty of completing hours, pretend that you are a student taking the course for 4 units of credit and you must complete 125 hours of practicum to receive a grade. In order to complete those hours, you must obtain approximately 8.5 hours of practicum experience a week for 15 weeks. If you do not secure a site until week 5 of the semester, you must complete 12.5 weekly hours. At first glance this may not seem significant, but if you consider that most students are taking a full course load and working, and many have outside obligations to family, finding an extra 4 hours per week can be difficult.

Suggestions for Obtaining a Site:

1. To be paid or not to be paid, that is the first question:

As a Christian University committed to service, and civic responsibility, the faculty hope to inspire students to fulfill their hours in a volunteer capacity. Volunteering has many benefits including offering you the chance to give to others, which increases, passion for life, gratitude, humility, charity, sense of purpose and meaning, a sense of connection to others and the wider community, and empathy to name a few of the benefits. The psychology faculty members are also aware of the economic realities of living in Southern California and attending a private university. Being a steward of one’s time and resources is also an important skill to develop and it is up to you to decide whether you can afford to volunteer at this point. Your grade is not dependent on volunteering. If you do need to be paid you are faced with fewer options, however. Most students needing pay work in group homes, after-school programs, or nursery schools, though you are not limited by this list. Use your creativity.

2. What is your passion?

Though we have some suggestions for practicum placements on this site, you are not limited to these. About what or whom are you passionate? Do you want to work with abused women? Do you want to work with animals in therapy? Are you more interested in the elderly or are you more interested in young children, adolescents, or families? Figure out your areas of interest.

3. What sites match your passions?

Search this site, talk to former field practicum students and search the practicum books available in the social sciences building. You can also contact the Volunteer Center for Orange County (714) 953-5757 for more opportunities.

4. Be creative.

Many hospitals and agencies have volunteer opportunities. If you are interested in a particular site call the main number and ask for the volunteer coordinator.

5. Pray.

Ask for God’s guidance in choosing a site. He knows the skills and talents that you have to offer and He knows what skills you need to develop.

6. Note.

Any site that you choose should provide you with a supervisor, someone who will provide you with training, guidance, and who will support class assignments.

The Realities of Field Placement:

One of the frustrations of Field Practicum students and supporting VU faculty members is that students of today receive little training and supervision by their sites of choice. Due to the economic realities of the current system, many sites and supervisors are overwhelmed by too many clients, too much paperwork, and not enough time and support, meaning that you the Field Practicum student may be asked to take on responsibilities for which you have not been trained and are not being properly supported Though many students enjoy the autonomy afforded by the current system, the realities of being responsible for 6 severely emotionally disturbed children, for example, can be overwhelming without good support and training. The supporting faculty is aware of these concerns and is addressing them in the Field Practicum class.

Brief Selection of Volunteer & Internship Sites

Child Abuse Prevention Center
500 S. Main St., 11th Floor
Santa Ana, CA 92868

Description: Founded in 1984, the Child Abuse Prevention Center is committed to breaking the generational cycle of child abuse, domestic violence and teen pregnancy in Orange County. The Prevention Center’s in-home early intervention programs have a well-documented record of strengthening and improving parent-child relationships, working to prevent abuse before it occurs. As the largest children’s nonprofit in Orange County devoted solely to the prevention of child abuse, the Prevention Center has served more than 150,000 Orange County residents—including 16,000 children and 5,500 families in the last year alone—and currently has waiting lists in all programs. For additional information, please visit the Prevention Center’s Web site at or contact Alex Lane at 714-955-6554.

Outreach Concern, Inc.
2030 E. Fourth Street, Suite 237
Santa Ana, CA 92705
(714) 547-1163

Description: Offers excellent supervision and training to students interested in working with children and adolescents in a school setting. Requires a 15 hour a week commitment.

South Coast Children’s Society

Description: SCCS operates eight group homes that provide treatment to abused and neglected children ages 8 to 17. There are opportunities for both paid and volunteer positions.

Volunteer Center for Orange County
1901 E. Fourth Street, Suite 100
Santa Ana, CA 92705
(714) 953-5757

Description: Coordinates volunteer interests and resources with community needs. Contact the Center for more information.

Mental Health Association Project Together
(714) 836-0355

Description: Project Together is a component of the Orange County Health Care Agency s Children & Youth Mental Health Services. This program matches adult volunteers from the community with children who are experiencing emotional and/or family problems. The website has excellent information about the program.

Family Solutions
203 N Golden Circle Drive, Suite 101
Santa Ana, CA 92705
(714) 835-1333

Description: Family Solutions focuses on the treatment and prevention of child abuse. Another objective of the program is to keep families and siblings together. The program offers several internships, including one-on-one with a child, working in a group dynamic, or working as a case manager.

Jenny Hart Early Education Center
4445 Alton Parkway
Irvine, CA 92604
(949) 786-7392

Description: This Christian based preschool is designed to provide opportunities that will enhance and challenge each child s growth in the following areas: social, emotional, cognitive, intellectual, physical, language, creative, and spiritual.

Olive Crest
2130 East Fourth Street
Suite 200
Santa Ana, CA 92705

Description: Olive Crest operates a licensed foster family agency, a specialized school, and neighborhood homes for troubled and abused children. The program serves to prevent, treat, and educate regarding child abuse issues.

Intervention Center for Early Childhood Services
1538 Brookhollow, Suite A
Santa Ana, CA 92705
(714) 434-4773

Description: In-home and center based parent participation. This program offers occupational and physical therapies, speech pathology, and infant/toddler education. Parent support groups are also offered.

Court Appointed Special Advocate
341 The City Drive South
Orange, CA 92668
(714) 935-6460

Description: CASA is a private nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the rights of children who have been removed from their homes because of chronic child abuse. Volunteers are appointed by the Juvenile Court to serve as advocates for these children.

Project Cuddle
2973 Harbor Boulevard #326
Costa Mesa, California 92626
(714) 432-9681

Description: Project Cuddle is a crisis rescue program that works with women who are considering abandoning their babies. Project Cuddle offers a toll free hotline and is available 24 hours a day.

Children s Hospital of Orange County
Volunteer Services
Orange, California

Description: A variety of clinical settings including Emergency Room, Pediatrics, Critical Care, and rotations. Volunteers help in a number of ways including assisting nurses, delivery, and interacting with children. Most volunteers are exposed to nearly every department during their first few weeks of volunteering.

Adopt a Grandparent Program
Feedback Foundation
1200 N. Knollwood Circle
Anaheim, California 92801
(714) 220-0224

Description: This program is designed to pair up college-aged volunteers with senior clients for mutual friendship and emotional support.

Orange County Probation Department
Juvenile Hall
331 The City Drive
Orange, California 92668

Description: This program offers volunteers the opportunity to Work with adolescent offenders in a variety of capacities. Volunteers assist in tutoring all academic subject areas and also serve as a mentor for many troubled youth.

Homeless Christian Fellowship of Santa Ana
600 N. First Street
Santa Ana, California

Description: The program offers volunteers the opportunity to work in a Christian outreach capacity. This program offers a Church service as well as a warm meal and clothes to the homeless and needy in the Santa Ana area. The program allows volunteers the opportunity to lead worship, help with Sunday school activities, evangelize, and/or work in the kitchen to prepare meals for the needy.