Month: December 2015

Friends are Unreliable Sources for Drinking Study

Dr. Michael FendMichael Fendrich, PhDrich's research was featured in the inaugural issue of the UConn Health Journal

In recent years, researchers have turned to friends of people in alcohol studies to verify what the subjects report about their drinking habits. People in the same social situations are sought out, in part, because of the inherent impairment caused by alcohol. But according to a UConn study published in Addictive Behaviors, friends don’t seem to provide any new information. In fact, they typically underreport what their acquaintances consume. The finding supports the so-called “protective effect” of friends described in other research. A growing availability of other evidence – hair and fingernail samples, for example – may provide better strategy for corroborating the amount of alcohol study subjects consume, says author Michael Fendrich, associate dean of the School of Social Work.

UConn Health Journal

Dr. Fendrich Faculty Profile

The utility of collateral student drinking reports (PDF of article)

Preparing Graduates for the Child Welfare Workforce

Antonia Cordero, DSW Robin Spath, PhD
Kathi Crowe MSW '83 New Executive Director of Waterbury Youth Services
Kathi Crowe MSW ’83

The UConn School of Social Work and the CT Department of Children and Families (DCF) have established the Connecticut Partnership for Child Welfare Excellence. The SSW is one of only eleven schools of social work in the U.S. to be selected to participate in this five year federal grant funded by the Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children & Families, and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. In all, thirty-five MSW students will receive stipends to complete field education placements at DCF and have priority consideration for employment at the agency. Students selected for this program will receive a stipend of $13,714.

Currently, eight second year Casework and Group Work students are engaged in the program. The goal of the five year grant is to assure a highly competent child welfare workforce that can effectively serve the needs of CT’s vulnerable children and families, particularly families of color, who are overrepresented in the child welfare system. All of the seven May 2015 graduates have been hired at DCF or at child welfare affiliated agencies.

Antonia Cordero, DSW and Robin Spath, PhD are the co-Principal Investigators. Antonia is the faculty advisor for the students and co-teaches the field seminar. Robin oversees project planning and implementation. The Project Director is Kathi M. Crowe, MSW ’83, LICSW, who has over 35 years of experience working in child welfare/administration and manages the day to day needs of the CT Partnership, co-facilitates the field seminar and serves as adjunct faculty in the MSW program. Mary Harris-Miller, MSW ’94, LCSW, is the field instructor and facilitates a monthly clinical training workshop for all students.

Many CT DCF staff are not exposed to the rigors of masters level social work education, which is uniquely designed to provide students with theoretical, methodological and supervised clinical practice experiences with historically underserved and disempowered populations.  Child welfare workers’ knowledge and skills need to be enhanced to provide culturally competent, trauma informed, and evidence based/informed child welfare services.

Enormous social and economic disparities exist in CT, as a state with a legacy of racial injustice.  These disparities include overrepresentation of African American and Latino children in the child welfare system and underrepresentation of African American and Latino child welfare workers.  This initiative complements the new Strengthening Families practice model adopted by DCF by enhancing the educational level of DCF staff. It also enhances the MSW curriculum, making it more responsive to contemporary child welfare workforce needs.  To further address the current workforce needs of DCF and its clients, current DCF employees are a priority population for this program as are minority, bilingual and male candidates.

Students selected for this program complete their advanced year field placement at DCF. In addition, they enroll in a two semester integrative seminar which meets twice a semester. Students must also complete two required child welfare courses, one each semester, including Child Maltreatment, taught by Kathi Crowe, and a course on Trauma-Informed Care, taught by Dr. Megan Berthold.

SSW Preparing Graduates to Work With At-Risk Youth

Eighteen second year Casework and Group Work students are engaged in a program at the School of Social Work, in partnership with the Department of Mental Health and Addictions Services (DMHAS). The focus of this three year grant is to train MSW students to work effectively with the young adult population, ages 18-25, with serious mental illnesses and/or co-occurring disorders.

Peter Papallo, LCSW, MS, is the Principal Investigator and an Assistant Extension Instructor. He teaches courses in micro foundation theory and practice, casework practice, and group work practice and provides academic and field advising to master level students. Peter’s areas of specialization include casework, group work, and practice with LGBT clients. “This program is both exciting and challenging. It prepares the students to practice with the young adult population whose needs and issues are multi-determined and multi-leveled, says Peter.”

Transitioning Youth at Risk is responsive to the needs identified in multiple studies of barriers to access to mental healthcare in Connecticut, particularly those conducted in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy. These studies have identified service gaps for at-risk youth including: scarce services and support groups for youth, shortages of mental health professionals, a shortage of intensive outpatient programs, long waiting lists for existing outpatient programs, and a scarcity of inpatient psychiatric programs. At the same time, where services for at-risk youth are available, practitioners report a need for more education about every aspect of working with youth (e.g. brain biology, trauma impacts, substance abuse, recognizing psychotic disorders, inclusion of families/natural support in treatment, suicide prevention, and the LGBTQI population, etc.)Peter Papallo, LCSW, MS

Students selected for this program complete a two semester field placement in a DMHAS Young Adult Services program. In addition, they enroll in a two semester integrative seminar on Transitioning Youth at Risk, designed and taught by Peter Papallo, and attend a monthly interprofessional training at Connecticut Valley Hospital taught by DMHAS staff. The teaching and training is based on the Recovery Model and a strengths based approach, where clients are empowered at all levels to lead self-determining and fulfilling lives to reach their highest potential. “In the classroom and in the field placements, we provide comprehensive and strength-based strategies to equip the students to work effectively with this population.” Upon successful completion of field and academic requirements, students receive a $10,000 stipend.