Author: Brian Dunnigan

SSW to Study Pediatric ED Use for Behavioral Health Concerns

Michael Fendrich, PhD
Michael Fendrich, Ph.D
Associate Dean for Research

The Children’s Fund of Connecticut (CFC) awarded a $57,500 grant to the UConn School of Social Work to evaluate the impact of the Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services (EMPS) program on emergency department utilization (ED) among youth with behavioral health concerns. The research team, led by Michael Fendrich, PhD (Associate Dean for Research), will use administrative data from EMPS and Medicaid claims to compare EMPS clients to a matched comparison group on ED utilization. Brenda Kurz, PhD is the co-investigator. They will also conduct focus groups with EMPS providers to supplement the quantitative findings and to further inform system and practice changes.The project will identify risk factors influencing subsequent ED use among those who receive EMPS services. 


Brenda Kurz, PhD
Associate Professor


VPR Awards Faculty Three SFF Grants in 2016

The Vice President for Research awarded three Scholarship Facilitation Fund Grants to SSW faculty this calendar year. The grants, totaling $2,000 per award, will facilitate the growth of extramural research and increase scholarly publications produced by faculty. In the spring of 2016, the VPR awarded three UConn School of Social Work Faculty including; one to Dr. Anne Marie Garran, Assistant Professor for the Casework sequence; one to Dr. Rebecca Thomas, Associate Professor, and one to Dr. Michael Fendrich, Professor, and Associate Dean for Research.

Dr. Garran’s grant entitled, “STEM, institutional bias, and retention of women of color in higher education.” is a study of cultural disparity. There have been repeated efforts to understand and address the under-representation in higher education of women of color in STEM, particularly where retention rates are concerned. Along with implicit bias, sexism, and a lack of mentoring and support, faculty women of color in STEM often report feeling invisible and marginalized. They also cite a pronounced lack of work-life balance that differs from that of their male counterparts. Before institutions can implement programmatic or policy changes to support the success of women in color in STEM, they need to identify salient factors that undergird what contributes to these women’s decision to stay or leave. Through the use of an online survey to collect data from the female faculty of color in STEM, this study aims to address this critical gap.

Dr. Ann-Marie Garran
Ann-Marie Garran, Ph.D.

Dr. Thomas is using this award to expand her ongoing research exploring the role of immigrant and migrant business professionals as supports for families that they leave behind. Her grant entitled, “Migration, Employment, and Remittances to Armenia ” focuses on understanding all aspects of the remittance process – the sending of cash or gifts by Armenia immigrants in the US back home to their families in Armenia. While previous work focused on interviewing the senders in the US, this work uniquely focuses on interviewing remittance recipients. Qualitative interviews will take place in Armenia to further understand how these transfers impact family life and family roles and to examine in detail what some of the perceived benefits and challenges of remitting are.

Rebecca L. Thomas, PhD

Rebecca Thomas, PhD

Dr. Fendrich’s grant is entitled, “From Mass Incarceration to Smart Decarceration: Towards a Collaborative Research Agenda @UConn.” Dr. Fendrich will partner with his colleagues at other universities and with other UConn schools to develop a one-day research workshop on the Greater Hartford Campus focused on decarceration research – research on stemming the tide of mass incarceration. He will bring a social work researcher as a keynote speaker to present leading research on this topic. The aims of this grant are 1) To foster and stimulate innovative Mass Incarceration research at UConn School of Social Work, and 2) To develop potential cross-departmental collaborations among workshop attendees and presenters to increase the viability of future extramural funding for Mass Incarceration research and effectuate decarcaration efforts.

Michael Fendrich, PhD
Michael Fendrich, PhD Associate Dean for Research

New Home for the School of Social Work in 2017

New Home of the School of Social Work
New Home of the School of Social Work

It’s official!  The new home of the UConn School of Social Work is 38 Prospect Street in downtown Hartford.  Our new location is adjacent to the Hartford Club and only a block from the Hartford Times Building.  We will share space with the Graduate Business Learning Center and the Department of Public Policy.

38 Prospect Street will be part of the new regional campus in downtown Hartford.  UConn envisions creating a neighborhood campus, fully intertwined with the nearby Hartford Public Library, Wadsworth Atheneum, Connecticut Science Center, Connecticut Convention Center, and state and city government offices. The main Hartford Times building will also include retail space at the ground floor level to enliven the streetscape.

The downtown campus is scheduled to open in fall 2017.

2014-2015 Scholarship Award Recipients

Each year the School of Social Work holds a Scholarship Awards Ceremony. It is a wonderful opportunity to bring together students and donors to recognize the outstanding academic achievements and professional contributions of our MSW, Ph.D. and Non-Degree students. A highlight of the event is the special remarks by a donor, their family or a past scholarship recipient.

The 16th annual scholarship event was held on April 21, 2015.  Naomi Bocarsly MSW ’13, recipient of the 2013 Dana DeBiasi Scholarship gave the remarks.


MSW Scholarships

Dr. Albert Alissi Scholarship
Elsa Reyes

Nancy Tarr Berdon Scholarship
Renee Hamel
Sandra Smith

Raymond and Mary Borecki Buck Scholarship
Amina Hosaini

Frank V. Carollo Scholarship
Lauren Forcellina
Jasmin Haynes
Landon Osborn
Christopher Pressley
William Rosedale

Mary Deane-Scalora Endowment Fund
Lauren Gray
Takaya Owens

Dana DeBiasi Scholarship
Shannon Perkins

Shirley and Howard Dickstein Scholarship
Danielle Nardone
Aswad Thomas

Dr. Ivor J. Echols Scholarship
Brandon Burke

Charlotte M. Kinlock Scholarship
Tiffanie McGowan

Mary Fran and Peter Libassi Scholarship
Erich Freywald

RuthAnn Lobo Social Work Scholarship
Katherine Bradway
Joan Carlson

Donna Millette-Fridge Scholarship
Christopher Dellaripa

Dr. Julio Morales Jr. Fellowship Endowment Fund
Monica Gould-Porras

Murry Shapiro Scholarship
Temple Wrinn

Miriam June Silverman Scholarship
Sandy Lomonico

Ph.D. Scholarships

Kay W. Davidson Doctoral Scholarship Fund
Elizabeth Allen

Debra and Bruce Fischman Endowed Scholarship Fund
Angela Bellas

Vicki and Michael Konover Graduate Fellowship in Social Work
Jesse Capece
Denise Keane
John Lachak
Jason Ostrander
Adelaide Sandler
Hiroki Toi
Jennifer Willett
Teresa Works

T. Roderick Silcott Endowed Fund
Michele Eggers

M. Elizabeth Sterling Scholarship
Walter Belsito
Janelle Bryan
Mollie Charter
Karen D’Angelo
Maureen Dimock
Jack Lu
Paula Nieman
Michael Reeves

Judy Zachs Fellowship in Social Work
Angela Bellas
Jesse Capece

Graduate Ph.D. Assistantships
Angela Bellas
Janelle Bryan
Jesse Capece
Maureen Dimock
Jason Ostrander

Konover Dissertation Scholarship
Karen Brown

Konover Travel Scholarship
Janelle Bryan

Dissertation Writing Fellowship
Michele Eggers

Dissertation Research Fellowship
Karen D’Angelo

If you are interested in contributing to an existing fund, establishing a new scholarship fund, for planned giving, or matching gift programs, please contact Lauren Prause at or 860.486.1949.

The UConn School of Social Work gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the outstanding people who make it possible to award these scholarships annually.

The 28th Annual Employee Appreciation Week

Employee Appreciation Week was held April 13-17, 2015. Each year, employees who provided 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45+ years of continuous state service as of October 1, receive recognition awards. These awards are given in appreciation for their dedication and commitment to the University and the State of Connecticut.


Some of the staff listed are School of Social Work staff and faculty located in the CT Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services, Research Division or in the CT Department of Social Services, Office of Organizational and Skill Development.

10 Years
Marilyn Cardone
Scott Harding
Kathryn Libal
Milagros Marrero-Johnson
Rebecca Thomas
Lisa Werkmeister Rozas

15 Years
Diana Ditunno
Alex Gitterman
Cheryl Jackson-Morris
Brenda Kurz
John Levesque
Hsiu-Ju Lin
Hiram Negron Roman

20 Years
Dorota Camacho
Nina Heller
Beth Sharkey

25 Years
Andrea Alfano
Diane Drachman
Darleen Klase

30 Years
Joanne Donati
Pamela Harrison
Sandra Worrell

35 Years
Lynne Healy
David Porteous

40 Years
Hugh Smolin

Francine Holmes MSW ’15 Receives Award

At its recent volunteer recognition dinner, the International Institute of Connecticut (IICONN) presented the first annual Angela R. Andersen award to Francine Holmes, who has been interning with IICONN since the fall.

“While all of our volunteers are wonderful, I can’t begin to think of one who has come close to making the impact that Francine has over the year that she’s been with us”, said IICONN staff attorney Ellen Messali. “We rely on her for so much, and she never disappoints.”


The Angela R. Andersen award was established this year in memory of IICONN’s Executive Director, who passed away last November. “Angela herself started at IICONN as an intern volunteer, so we thought it would be fitting to rename our Volunteer of the Year Award in her memory,” said Marie Dallas, Director of Operations at IICONN. “Angela would be thrilled that Francine was the first recipient.”

“My internship at IICONN was uniquely wonderful and fulfilling,” says Francine. IICONN is made up of a remarkable and supportive ensemble that tirelessly assists resettled refugees through the obstacles of their transition. I was given a rare opportunity to be a part of that process and I will always look back on it with fond memories.”

The International Institute of Connecticut is a statewide agency that assists refugees and immigrants in Connecticut resolve legal, economic, linguistic and social barriers so that they become self-sufficient, integrated and contributing members of the community. It also provides specialized services to victims of serious crimes such as human trafficking, torture, and domestic violence.

Excerpt from

Center for International Social Work Studies Recipient of the Partners in Advancing International Education Awards

The CSWE Partners in Advancing International Education (PIE) Awards Committee has selected the Center for International Social Work Studies (CISWS) as a recipient of its 2014 awards. The PIE awards are given in recognition of conceptual, curricular, and programmatic innovations in education for international social work. The PIE Awards Committee, which is part of CSWE’s Commission on Global Social Work Education, chose to recognize UConn SSW Center for International Social Work Studies in the program category for “demonstrating outstanding contributions to the field of international social work education”.

The awards ceremony will be held on Friday, October 24, 2014, from 6:30 pm–8:30 pm at the Mariott Tampa Bay Seaside Hotel in Meeting Rooms 5-6. All 2014 APM registrants are invited to attend.

For more information on CISWS:

Three MSW Graduates Honored by CWEALF

The Connecticut Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF) celebrated their 40th anniversary recently by honoring women who exemplified leadership, potential to excel and commitment to their communities. Three MSW graduates were among the forty women honored.

cwealfJillian Gilchrest MSW ’06 is the Director of Public Policy and Communication at the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services in East Hartford, CT. She is dedicated to making Connecticut a better place for women, children and families and inspires the next generation of women through her continued focus on advocating for women’s issues. Currently, Jillian is an elected member of the West Hartford Board of Education and a blogger for

Setta Mushegian MSW ’10 is the Director of Crisis Counseling and Advocacy at The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education in Stamford, CT. She uses her expertise in sexual violence and passion for positive change to inform her practice and to inspire the next generation of women. Currently, Setta sits on the Board of Directors for the CT Sexual Assault Crisis Services, is a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Justice for Abuse Children Multidisciplinary Team Evaluation Committee, and is a member of the two multidisciplinary teams in Lower Fairfield County that investigate disclosures of child sexual abuse.

Gretchen Raffa MSW ’12 is the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. She has become a fixture in the Connecticut reproductive health community for implementing new and innovative ways to inform and engage the public about political issues affecting reproductive health and justice. Gretchen has been leading the CT Coalition for Choice and is a board member of Youth Rights Media in New Haven and an active participant in the LGBTQ community.

Training for Adoption Competency (TAC)

There are a limited number of slots available for Training for Adoption Competency (TAC). The application deadline is February 17, 2014. There are a few partial scholarships available. For detailed information, a brochure and application visit the TAC web page.

TAC is:

The TAC is a training program specifically developed to provide social workers and other mental health professionals with the clinical skills they need to provide quality clinical services to adopted persons, birth families, prospective adoptive parents, adoptive families and kinship families. TAC is a 78-hour, 13 (1 on-line, 12 face-to-face) sessions, followed by 6 monthly group clinical case consultation sessions.

The Center for Adoption Support and Education:
The Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) developed the TAC based on its extensive experience in providing pre- and post-adoption counseling and educational services to families, educators, child welfare staff and mental health providers. More information about C.A.S.E. can be found at

Special features of the TAC:

  1. It is exclusively designed for social workers and mental health professionals
  2. It has an in-depth clinical focus and is specifically designed to build and strengthen clinical skills
  3. It is based on 18 adoption competencies vetted by a National Advisory Board of adoption experts, adoptive parents and adopted persons
  4. It is very intensive: 78 hours of instruction followed by 6 months of clinical case consultation to support transfer of learning to practice
  5. It is manualized to ensure high quality replication across multiple sites

Questions? Contact Reesa Olins at

MSW Student Kyle Barrette Reports on His Summer 2013 UNICEF Fellowship in India

As part of their initiative to build a Knowledge Community on Children in India (KCCI), UNICEF sponsors an annual fellowship program that seeks to expand the knowledge base on issues and interventions aimed at women and children in India. UNICEF accepts applications from graduate and post graduate students from India and around the globe. This year, 32 fellows from 7 different countries were chosen to take part in the program. After applying, I was chosen as one of two students to represent the U.S. for this fellowship.

Giving final presentation on our study to UNICEF officials in Delhi

As part of the fellowship program, UNICEF created teams of students based on areas of academic and professional experience and sent us to various project sites throughout India. The team I was placed with was tasked with evaluating UNICEF’s Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction (CBDRR) program being implementing in the northern state of Bihar.

Field visit to Dwalakh village in northern Bihar, India

As part of our evaluation we carried out field research in 12 different villages and 12 different schools throughout the state. We carried out interviews and focused group discussions with NGO workers, community members and stakeholders to assess the program’s progress and how the program could be scaled up. The final outcome of the fellowship was a 30 page report on the CBDRR program that included an in-depth program assessment, suggestions for scaling up the program and policy implications.

Marking the flood level on a raised housing platform during field visit

Sadly, as we were carrying out our fieldwork, a state in North India, Uttarakhand, experienced one of the most devastating landslides to hit the country in the past 200 years. In light of this natural disaster, the program we were evaluating was placed in the national spotlight as a proposed model to reduce the effects of similar disasters in the future and is currently poised to be implemented throughout the country. Because of this disaster event, our supervisor was forced to leave in the middle of our field work to carry out a needs assessment for survivors and we were asked to present our findings to the state team that had been assembled to direct reconstruction. This was an immense honor and led me to realize the importance of the work that my team was doing.

At UN offices in Patna, Bihar

After returning from fieldwork and finalizing our report, UNICEF administrators were impressed with our analysis of the program and selected our report for publication. The report will be used for internal and external advocacy, and to help bring the CBDRR program to other parts of India where UNICEF operates. UNICEF officials also requested that we give a presentation of our findings to the India country office, the Director of UNICEF in India, and to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of India. This was a great honor and it was a hopeful to see that our policy recommendations were given recognition by members of the national government. Members of our evaluation team recently received work that the NDMA has chosen to pilot the CBDRR program in partnership with UNICEF in three new states in India and has implemented two of our policy recommendations for the program.

As the fellowship came to a close, all fellows were asked to prepare a story of our most significant experience of change. I had come to realize many things about myself throughout the summer and this story offered me a great opportunity to process and document much of the change I had experienced. As a westerner working in India, the weight of my privilege often caused me to speculate on the role I could play in working towards positive change in India. However, throughout my experience I continued to build close relationships with those I lived with and the families I met during our visits to disaster effected villages. This experience illustrated the strength of human connection in overcoming barriers and obstacles and revealed appropriate ways in which I could work towards positive change in a country that was not my own.

These stories of change were compiled and reviewed by the UNICEF country office to better understand our experience. Of great personal honor, my story was selected by UNICEF officers for publication on their website and I was asked to give a reading of the story to UNCEF officials at the closing workshop for the fellowship program.

As I return to the United States and settle back into life in my home country, I continue to realize the totality of this experience and I know it is one I will carry with me for the rest of my life. This experience has helped me to realize what I am capable of, both as an individual and as a social worker. This experience has caused me to expand my conceptualization of the social work profession and has allowed me to see the important role that social workers can play in international development efforts. As I move forward from this experience I plan to advocate for further integration of social workers within international development efforts and for the expansion of international content in social work curriculum.