Month: August 2023

Yolanda Leon, MSW ’05


Yolada LeonYolanda has been employed by the Department of Children and Families for 25 years. Yolanda currently is a Social Worker in the Statewide Quality Improvement Division’s Case Practice Review Unit. In this role she conducts case reviews to assess for compliance with policy and identifying areas of needs for staff. Prior to this she worked for the regional office where she conducted various case reviews, provided one to one coaching for staff, participated in various Quality Improvement Teams, served as the Multidisciplinary Evaluation Liaison, and worked on special projects.  Yolanda provides technical assistance to the Region 4 Citizen’s Review Panel which is made up of community members who review policies, practices, and procedures and evaluate the extent that the region is meeting its child protective services responsibilities.

Yolanda has experience working with families as a Social Worker in the Ongoing Social Work Unit, Sexual Abuse Specialty Unit, Medically Complex Specialty Unit and Permanency Specialty Unit. Yolanda has also worked for the Foster Care & Adoptive Services Division where she provided oversight and support to foster parents, conducted training for kinship providers, facilitated support groups, licensed kinship foster homes and relicensed foster homes.

Yolanda is actively involved in various groups and committees within the office. Yolanda is Co-Chair of the office Wellness Team, a member of the Hartford Office Council and member of the Advisory Council. In addition, she takes a lead role in organizing and planning office wide events.

Within the community Yolanda is Co Leader of the Latinas in Motion Hartford Chapter. This organization encourages, inspires, and empowers women to get active.

Yolanda earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Connecticut in 1998 with a major in Human Development and Family Relations and a minor in Criminal Justice. Yolanda earned her MSW in 2005 with a Major Method of Community Organization and a focus area in Puerto Rican and Latino Studies. She has served on the Board of Champions since 2022.

Group Work with Older Individuals: Imagine the Possibilities

Willa J. Casstevens. PhDRegister Now for CE programs

Fri, September 29, 2023
9:30 am – 4:00 pm
5 CECs

Registration Fee -$125
10% discount for UConn SSW Alumni and current SSW Field Instructors

Classroom location will be in your confirmation email.

The population of older adults in the USA is growing rapidly. Moreover, older adults have been and continue to be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, now endemic among us. The global pandemic threatened individual and familial economic security, increased social isolation, and negatively affected individual physical and mental health, as well as social well-being. For many older adults this has led to increased anxiety and depression, and ongoing grief due to the loss of loved ones.

Recommended interventions have included physical activity, human touch, an increase in economic support policies, programs to address mental health concerns, and training on mindfulness and self-help skills, such as meditation. Group work stands out as a treatment modality that can be used effectively in all these contexts.

Social group work is a non-hierarchical and strengths-based practice incorporating purposeful activity and mutual aid. Joanne Sulman, a social group worker of over 50 years working with older adults, notes that social group work provides connection, a space for sharing of experience, and feelings of inclusion in a community of people. Active engagement, very effective when working with older adults, is an important part of this process.

Imagine the possibilities – how can you use social group work in your practice with older individuals?

Group work with older adults can include fitness programs, craft groups, choirs, bridge clubs, etc. In the context of mental health, social group work can offer peer support, help navigating losses, and the opportunity to learn and/or improve coping strategies. This approach also fits well with both occupational and recreational therapy.

This workshop includes both didactic and experiential activities. Space is included for group discussion, as well as group work activities and reflection. We will conduct group activities, reflect on experiences, and consider ways to apply this material and these shared experiences in practice settings.

This workshop will enable you to:

  • gain an understanding of major life challenges older adults face and explore how social group work can be utilized to support individuals in coping with aging-related issues
  • explore factors that contribute to healthy aging and creatively consider ways social group work can be a valuable resource in supporting and enhancing this process
  • learn how to incorporate connectedness, active participation, and independence within group work sessions for older adults, fostering a sense of community and empowerment
  • enhance skills needed to develop and implement purposeful group activities tailored to the needs of older individuals in order to improve overall well-being and quality of life.