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Social Work
Section Newsletter
Fall 2005

Notes from the Chair

 
To our colleagues, friends, and all the citizens of the states tragically impacted by Hurricane Katrina, our thoughts and prayers are with you. We are again reminded how vulnerable we all are and how at a moment's notice, our lives can change forever. I ask the Social Work Section members to do what they can to assist, be it through donations or volunteering. At the moment I am writing this newsletter, we are mobilizing teams to go to the impacted areas. Long-term support will be needed. We are again reminded how vital is the role of public health.

Due to the devastation to the New Orleans area, the APHA Annual Meeting will be held in Philadelphia, Dec. 10 - 14, 2005. The Association of State and Territorial Public Health Social Workers (ASTPHSW) leadership has detremined that the ASTPHSW meeting will be postponed. We will let you know the new date and location as soon as possible. We were looking forward to having a joint meeting, but that will not happen this year.

I recognize much is still unknown, but we are working hard to prepare for a productive meeting. It is important that the Annual Meeting occur. We in the public health community need to come together now more than ever.

APHA is examining how we as an organization can assist the Gulf Coast. APHA has encouraged members to work closely with partners such as the Red Cross. Many meetings have occured around advocacy and getting resources to those in need. Additionally, focus has been on the importance of emphasizing the necessity of a strong public health infrastructure and getting funds for health departments who responded.

Thanks for all the members who contribute time and effort to the Social Work Section. It is your section, and to be successful, it requires the effort of many. Come to the Annual Meeting, and please attend and get involved in the Section business meetings. See you then!

Reg

APHA ANNUAL MEETING UPDATE

~ NEW DATES, LOCATION, AND PROGRAM INFORMATION ~

DEC. 10-14, 2005............PHILADELPHIA

Due to the devastating situation in New Orleans brought on by Hurricane Katrina, the APHA 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition has been moved to Philadelphia, Dec. 10-14, 2005. We ask for everyone’s continued patience, understanding and support as we finalize the logistics and planning of the meeting. Updates will also be posted to the APHA Web site at <www.apha.org/meetings/new_orleans_update.htm>.

PROGRAM FOCUS

Our nation has been irrevocably affected by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The storm’s toll on human lives and health is overwhelming. In its aftermath lies a daunting challenge for public health: to rebuild and sustain the infrastructure necessary for assuring the conditions in which all people can be healthy.

The Annual Meeting program is being revised to address the public health emergency across the Gulf Coast, relief efforts and rebuilding of communities and the public health infrastructure.

APHA is developing special content dealing with the effects and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the lessons learned and the challenges that lie ahead. There will be special sessions on disaster management and arrangements are being made to present additional plenary sessions on disaster recovery that will explore the lessons of this tragedy.

The Annual Meeting will provide an important opportunity for the public health community to collaborate, share across disciplines and construct long-term solutions to best address this tragedy.


ANNUAL MEETING REGISTRATION

For those who have already registered for the Annual Meeting in New Orleans, all registrations will automatically be transferred and applicable for the new Dec. 10-14, 2005 Annual Meeting dates in Philadelphia.

Anyone who has not registered may still take advantage of the discounted full registration fees that have been extended until Nov. 4, 2005.

APHA Annual Meeting Registration Cancellation Policy (effective Sept. 5, 2005) is available at <www.apha.org>.


HOTEL RESERVATIONS & HOUSING INFORMATION

Previously Made Reservations. All hotel reservations and deposits that were previously made for New Orleans are being automatically transferred to comparable hotel properties in Philadelphia. New Philadelphia hotel confirmations will be sent to all Annual Meeting registrants who had previously made reservations at hotels in New Orleans. Once these confirmations are received, attendees will have the ability to amend their reservations if necessary.

New Reservations. All new requests for hotel reservations will be accepted after all previously made hotel reservations are transferred and accommodated. The Philadelphia housing Web pages will be operational for new reservations after Sept. 19.

Housing and Hotel Concellation Policy is available at the APHA Web site <www.apha.org/meetings>.

Gulf Coast Mobilization

The outpouring of assistance to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina has been heartwarming. However, there remains a tremendous amount still left to do....and there will be a need for help for some time to come. Many of us have contributed time, money and expertise already. But let's not forget those who are just now returning to their homes only to discover that there is nothing left. Resources in the region are limited. There are a number of agencies through which we may assist. Below are listed a few.

Social Workers (students, LCSWs, retired, etc.) are needed immediately and will be needed for an unknown time period to assist the American Red Cross. Both currently trained volunteers as well as Social Workers wanting to be Red Cross volunteers have an opportunity to help the victims from Hurricane Katrina. Volunteers are needed both in the gulf region and in local areas which are receiving evacuees for either long or short periods of time.

To meet the urgent and ongoing needs in the gulf region, the American Red Cross is launching the largest mobilization of resources for a single natural disaster. Social Workers who do not possess a license can volunteer as Client Caseworkers or for other needed activities. Licensed Clinical Social Workers are needed for Mental Health Services. Interested volunteers should contact their local Red Cross chapter for current details and possible volunteer opportunities both locally and nationally. To find your local Red Cross Chapter go to <http://www.redcross.org/index.html>.

APHA members have shown great concern and been eager to learn how best to help. It is a testament to the generous nature of those working in public health. APHA is determining how it can best direct our members and resources to assist in the recovery efforts.

How to Help
APHA has been in contact with federal officials to offer the Association’s assistance in response efforts. We have been advised that the greatest need is for monetary donations, and we urge individuals to be as generous as possible. The following list includes the FEMA latest recommendations of agencies offering support.
* American Red Cross (800) HELP-NOW (435-7669)
* America's Second Harvest (800) 344-8070
* Adventist Community Services (800)381-7171
* B'nai B'rith
* Catholic Charities USW (800) 919-9338
* Christian Disaster Response (941) 956-5183
* Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (800) 848-5818
* Church World Service (800) 297-1516
* Convoy of Hope (417) 823-8998
* Corporation for National and Community Service Disaster Relief Fund
* Lutheran Disaster Response (800) 638-3522
* Mennonite Disaster Service (717) 859-2210
* Nazarene Disaster Response (888) 256-5886
* Operation Blessing (800) 436-6348
* Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (800) 872-3283
* Salvation Army (800)SAL-ARMY(725-2769)
* Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief (800)462-8657 x 6440
* United Methodist Committee on Relief (800)554-8583

The APHA Katrina response page is posted at <http://www.apha.org/preparedness/Katrina_relief.htm>.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is directing individuals interested in volunteering or making a donation to assist relief efforts to USA Freedom Corps at <http://www.usafreedomcorps.gov/>.

A list of organizations accepting contributions from the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster is available at <http://www.nvoad.org/membersdb.php?members=National>.

The CDC Foundation, the non-profit partner of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is seeking donations for the Emergency Preparedness & Response Fund. Contributions to the fund will aid CDC and the network of U.S. state and local health departments involved in the public health response to Hurricane Katrina. More information is available at <http://www.cdcfoundation.org>. Secure donations can be made online or by calling (888) 880-4CDC.

The Pan American Health and Education Foundation is collecting money to support PAHO/WHO’s public health coordination efforts in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Visit <http://www.pahef.org/common/page.php?id=162>.

How to Volunteer
The Office of the Surgeon General and the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness are in the process of mobilizing and identifying health care professionals and relief personnel to assist in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Visit <https://volunteer.ccrf.hhs.gov>.

For public health workers employed by state and local public health agencies, please volunteer through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). Visit <http://www.emacweb.org/>.

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) provides state and local links at <http://www.astho.org/?template=1bioterrorism.html>.

Individuals can contact the Hurricane Katrina Volunteer Call Center at (866) KATMEDI (1-866-528-6334).

Federal Emergency Management Agency can be reached at (800) 440-6728.

Many Red Cross chapters are holding emergency training sessions. People who wish to volunteer should contact their local American Red Cross chapter at <http://www.redcross.org/where/chapts.asp>.

Louisiana Office of Public Health: Check here for volunteer and contact information.

Mississippi Volunteer Opportunities
Please see <www.MississippiRecovery.com> for information on volunteering in Mississippi.


American Medical Association
http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/15474.html

National Medical Association
http://www.nmanet.org/HurricaneKatrina.pdf

American College of Emergency Physicians
http://www.acep.org/webportal/MemberCenter/AboutACEP/
katrina/effortscontinue.htm

National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
http://www.nvoad.org/membersdb.php?members=National

Annals of Internal Medicine
http://www.annals.org/shared/hurricane.shtml

How to Find Family and Friends
http://www.firstgov.gov/Citizen/Topics/PublicSafety/
Hurricane_Katrina_Recovery.shtml#vgn-finding-loved-ones-vgn

Resources
Legal and regulatory issues regarding the use of volunteer health personnel
http://www.publichealthlaw.net/Research/Katrina.htm

Services and information for people with disabilities www.katrinadisability.info

Hurricane Katrina environmental health information http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/enviro/hurricane.html

Mental health issues
www.apa.org

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is providing a crisis hotline for those in emotional distress. Call (800) 273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

APHA Resources
APHA is making available hurricane-relevant chapters of “Public Health Management of Disasters, 2nd Edition” by Linda Landesman.

Hurrican Katrina - Toxic Chemicals and Environmental Health Concerns

Editor's note: Thanks to Laura Larsson from the University of Washington for distributing this information from the National Library of Medicine.

The National Library of Medicine has compiled a new Hurricane Katrina Web page, <http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/enviro/hurricane.html>, on toxic chemical and environmental health information resources for health workers and the interested public. Links are provided to information on chemicals that may be released as a result of the Katrina disaster and on environmental health concerns following the wind and flood damage.

The page includes a link to WISER, the Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders. First responders may download the WISER set of information on 400 toxic chemicals and hazardous materials to a Palm, Pocket PC, or laptop/desktop computer that uses Microsoft Windows. WISER is designed to help identify unknown substances and gives ready access to basic
emergency haz-mat information.

Links to TOXMAP identify and map locations of facilities that use or transport significant levels of toxic chemicals, and lists the chemicals for each facility. Maps are included for the Katrina-affected states as well as for New Orleans, Biloxi, and Gulfport.

To contact National Library of Medicine:
1-888-FIND-NLM (1-888-346-3656)
Customer Service: custserv@nlm.nih.gov

To contact Specialized Information Services:
(toxicology and environmental health information)
Customer Service: tehip@teh.nlm.nih.gov
National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Northwest Region

Public Health Social Work in the Workplace

At the 2004 APHA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., the Group for Public Health Social Work Initiatives —- Betty J. Ruth, Sarah Sisco, Tinka Markham Piper, Sarah Bachman, and Jamie Wyatt —- presented findings from a recent study of workplace experiences of MSW/MPH program graduates. Little is known about the careers of graduates from these programs, despite the fact that there are now close to 20 across the country. Descriptive studies suggest that graduates encounter numerous challenges in the professional training process and the workplace, including a lack of consensus on the definition, content, and roles of public health social workers in the 21st century. There also is concern about whether social workers trained in public health will abandon their professional identification; whether and how graduates craft a sense of professional integration of the two fields; where and what the jobs are; and whether the salaries are higher for those graduating with a dual expertise.

In the study, conducted in 2004, the researchers conducted four two-hour focus groups over a six-month period in Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C., with graduates from four MSW/MPH programs. The team used social work listservs, word of mouth, and alumni and other databases to reach as many students and graduates as possible. Five researchers, trained both in public health and social work, analyzed the transcripts using traditional methods of qualitative analysis.

The findings were grouped according to a five-theme model which the researchers viewed as a “person in environment” construct. Focus group participants identified what drew them to the programs in the first place (Internal Psychological Environment); experiences obtaining both degrees (Training
Environment); employment-finding experiences (Transitional Environment); the nature of the workplace for dual professionals (Professional Environment); and hopes and ideas for the future (Future Environment).

Internal Psychological Environment: MSW/MPH students came to their programs with diverse interests, interdisciplinary orientations, and a kind of “professional restlessness” that drove their interests in prevention and intervention as well as populations and individuals. Participants spoke of their strong desire for academic rigor and creativity, as well as a wish to develop “soft” and “hard” competencies—loosely seen as obtained from social work and public health respectively. The desire for greater professional challenge and more “marketability” was a repeated refrain among participants.

Once in graduate school, participants from some programs recalled numerous institutional obstacles in their Training Environments. During the training process, many graduates remembered a feeling of not belonging to either field, or of identifying with only one of their fields. The ongoing need to make some sort of “integrative peace” with both professions led many focus group respondents to focus on the continuing challenge of defining the intersection points between public health and social work.

The Transitional Environment, described as the times when new graduates searched for employment or when any new search for professional employment was initiated, was marked by difficulties. Participants recalled the challenges of finding truly integrated workplaces where public health social work was practiced. Therefore, many spoke of the need to “educate employers,” “market themselves” or “having to explain why public health and social work go together.” Sometimes, this took the form of needing two different resumes based on what kind of job one was trying to procure. Other graduates spoke of the need to accept that one is a “pioneer” and to grow comfortable with self-marketing, as well as the lack of understanding of how public health social work manifests in professional settings.

As such, the Professional Workplace Environment, for most MSW/MPH graduates, is not a place where public health social work is well-understood. Graduates noted they were treated “differently” from those who were “just social workers” and many acknowledged that they struggled to achieve a kind of dual professional integration. The questions of whether one was “using” both social work and public health skill sets challenged graduates regularly. Being able to comprehend the weaknesses and strengths in both professions was a plus, but it was a rare environment that encouraged integrative practice.

Graduates had many hopes for an improved Future Environment for MSW/MPH practitioners. There was a strong articulated sense of being “pioneers” or “a growing force” in public health social work, one that could help stabilize the social work professions presence as equal participants in public health promotion and disease prevention. Participants strongly urged MSW/MPH program administrators to increase job support, mentoring, networking and career development, and integrations activities throughout and beyond the programs. MSW/MPH graduates were particularly articulate about the need for more clarity in the social work field on the roles and definitions of public health social work. Many participants suggested that employers needed to be educated on the importance of hiring practitioners who can “do” and understand the value of both intervention and prevention skill sets,. Focus group respondents asked as many questions as they answered about the directions of both public health and social work. Foremost among them was: Is social work going to be a part of public health, and will it ever embrace prevention and health promotion? Are dual-degree programs the best way to train new practitioners in these methods? What is required by learning institutions to deliver quality MSW/MPH programs?

Implications for those who mount these programs are significant. Graduates strenuously support greater efforts at program administration, cross-disciplinary advising, multilevel integration at the training level, and alumni development. Alumni are keenly aware of and accept their roles as pioneers and self-marketers. They do ask, however, for support in negotiating the tasks of job-finding, dual professional integration, and mentoring.

Implications for the social work profession also include the need for more research on the specific intersection of public health and social work practice in today’s workplace environment. Graduates spoke longingly for an “integrated” workplace where they could be dually supported to draw upon both skill sets, and where the value of linking prevention and intervention might be realized. Discussion of “ideal” jobs generated much interest in the definition of public health social work and its place in the larger profession. There is a critical need for a contemporary discussion on social work’s role in what has been called the “brave new world” of health care. Social workers trained dually in public health and social work may well hold an important key to leadership in this new world.

The Group for Public Health Social Work Initiatives (GPSI), which sponsored this research, currently continues efforts to promote a national dialogue and increased research on public health social work. Among other projects, a follow up survey with these focus group participants was conducted in summer 2005.

A national “working” conference is planned for May 19, 2006, at Boston University, in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the MSW/MPH program. Entitled “Public Health Social Work in the 21st Century,” the conference will highlight presentations on best practices in contemporary public health social work, and build an action plan for promoting public health social work within and across disciplines. For further information on this upcoming event, please be in touch with Conference Director, Betty J. Ruth at Boston University School of Social Work (e-mail: bjruth@bu.edu).

Dennis Poole appointed Dean of University of South Carolina's College of Social Work

Dennis Poole, long-time member of APHA and the Social Work Section, has been appointed Dean of the College of Social Work at the University of South Carolina. Information about Professor Poole from the University's School of Social Work Web site is presented below.

Dennis is a professor of non-profit management and community building at the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is a member of numerous committees and a unit coordinator for the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Harris Pastides, University of South Carolina's vice president for research and health sciences, said Poole is among the finest academic social work leaders in the United States.

"He has an exemplary record of fostering research, innovative educational programs and meaningful community outreach activities," said Pastides. "He also has a high energy level and will be very much admired by the college's internal and external constituents."

Poole said the spirit of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship fostered by University of South Carolina President Andrew Sorensen and Pastides was a factor in his interest in the deanship.

"Within the College of Social Work, I also was impressed with the willingness of faculty, staff and students to listen, reflect and adapt to the changing needs of the university and the state in higher education, without losing sight of social work's historic mission to vulnerable populations," Poole said.

"I look forward to the opportunity to take University of South Carolina's College of Social Work to its next level of excellence, chiefly through cross-disciplinary education and research, innovative university-community health partnerships and international leadership in social-work education," he said.

Before joining the UT Austin faculty, Poole was a faculty member of the schools of social work at the University of Central Florida, Virginia Commonwealth University and Arizona State University. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and has taken courses at the University of Essex in England, Cornell University and the State University of New York.

His academic interests include community planning and development, management of non-profit agencies, Mexican-U.S. policy and research partnerships, the faith community, international social welfare, homelessness and public health. He is a consultant to numerous local, state and federal agencies and is the former editor-in-chief of the Journal of Health and Social Work and the author or editor of six books. A Maryland native, Poole earned his bachelor's degree in sociology from St. Anselm College, a master's degree in social work from West Virginia University and a doctoral degree in social policy from Brandeis University. He and his wife, Kathleen, have three children.

University of South Carolina's College of Social Work, which admitted its first students in 1969, offers the state's only master's and doctoral degrees in social work and has about 500 students. Since 1992, the college has offered a master's degree program in Seoul, Korea.

The college is home to the Center for Child and Family Studies, the I. DeQuincey Newman Institute for Peace and Social Change, the S.C. Center for Gerontology and the social work professional journal, Arete. In addition, the college is a partner with the S.C. Area Health Education Consortium to prepare social workers in the Palmetto State to handle psychosocial issues related to bioterrorism and public-health emergencies.

Doris Maria Barnette (1945 - 2005)

Doris Maria Barnette passed away in Jackson, Miss., on May 23 after a short illness. She was born in Columbia, Louisiana in 1945. She received her undergraduate degree and master's degree in social work from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

Her first employment was with the United States Public Health Service in Philadelphia working with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. In the late 1970s she assumed the position of director of the Mississippi Delta Child Health Improvement project in Clarksdale. In 1980 Barnette was selected as statewide family planning director for the Mississippi Department of Public Health in Jackson. During that time she was selected as Social Worker of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers. In 1986 she was appointed Assistant State Health Officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health in Montgomery. From 1992 to 1994 she did private consulting. In 1994 she began working with the Florida Healthy Start coalition in Tampa. In 1996 she began work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C. In 1997 she became Principal Advisor to the Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, a 6 billion dollar agency assuring access to health care for more than 8 million Americans. Barnette moved to Jackson, Miss., in 2001 and was the administrator of a four-state disability business until her death.

She is survived by three nieces, a nephew, five great nieces, six great nephews, two brothers and a sister. She is the daughter of the late Bythel Barnette and Cecil Ray Barnette. A celebration of her life was held on Sunday, June 26, 2005.

A special memorial for Doris is being planned by the Social Work Section at the APHA Annual Meeting.

Membership News

The Annual Meeting is approaching quickly! It's not too soon to think about potential new members (students, colleagues, even former members) that you could invite to attend the Annual Meeting with you in Philadelphia. Bring them to the Business Meetings and introduce them to the Section. You could volunteer to work with them on a Section project/activity -- it would be a great way to get them involved -- and support the Section.

Membership applications/meeting registration forms are available online at the APHA Web site, <www.apha.org>. New members get a great deal on membership and meeting attendance fees. Check them out!

If you have any questions or suggestions that you would like Section Leadership to pursue, contact Section Chair Reg Hutchinson at <hutchimr@dhec.sc.gov> or Membership Chair Jeanne Saunders at <jeanne-saunders@uiowa.edu>.

Call for Papers, Articles and So Forth

Editor's Note: I often receive notices of calls for articles and presentations. Below are several that may be of interest to members of the Social Work Section.

Affilia, the Journal of Women and Social Work publishes Women Creating Change as a regular column focusing on the contributions of women practitioners, activists, advocates and educators whose work is challenging gender oppression, changing women's lives and shaping the future of feminism. We encourage a broad interpretation of "women creating change," and we invite submission of stories that challenge and inspire us as social workers and feminists. Through this column, we seek to bring women's stories that may otherwise go untold to our readers.

We are seeking original, concise submissions such as the following: 1) narratives based on interviews with women creating change locally or globally; 2) Accounts of the struggles and successes of particular grassroots women's initiatives; 3) First-person accounts linking the personal and the political in practice of all kinds; 4) Stories of the creativity, resistance, and change-oriented action of women whose voices have not been heard -- young women, older women, poor women, and women consumers of programs and services.

Submissions may be up to six pages, double-spaced, 12 point font. Send three copies of the manuscripts to Miriam Dinerman, Editor-in-Chief, Affilia, Yeshiva University School of Social Work, 2495 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10033. Include your phone number, mailing address, and e-mail address. Direct questions about the column and possible ideas for submission to Christina Gringeri, Column Editor, College of Social Work, University of Utah, 395 South 1500 East, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112 or via e-mail at <cgringeri@socwk.utah.edu>.



Journal of Health and Social Work will have a special issue on Aging and Health. The purpose of this special issue is to showcase social work reserach on aging and health. Co-editing this special edition will be Vaughn DeCoster (vdecost@uark.edu) and Debra Oliver (University of Missouri, Columbia). The final deadline for submission is Dec. 31, 2005. Request more information from Vaughn DeCoster.


International Conference "Violence Against Women : Diversifying Social Responses" - Call for Papers

Deadline : Oct. 17 2005, 9 a.m.

The Interdisciplinary Research Centre on Family Violence and Violence Against Women (CRI-VIFF) is pleased to invite you to the Résovi's International Conference "Violence Against Women: Diversifying Social Responses."

The main objective of this conference is to permit researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and students from different countries to share their knowledge, experiences and insights on the issue of violence against women in different social contexts and the various social responses that have been developed to combat it.

The Organizing Committee of the conference is inviting researchers, practitioners, policy-makers, etc. working in this field to submit a proposal for oral or poster presentation that addresses the following themes:

1) Violence against women in different social contexts.

2) Social responses to violence against women.

3) Major debates and issues regarding the social responses that have been developed to address violence against women.


Oral and poster presentations can be done in English or French.

For further information or to download the proposal form, please visit the conference Web site at <http://www.criviff.qc.ca/colloque/appel_ang.asp>. The form can be filled on line or sent by mail until Oct. 17, 9 a.m.

Organizing Committee
Dominique Damant, Université Laval, scientific manager
Suzanne Arcand, CRI-VIFF
Rachel Boivin, Ministry of Justice, Quebec Government
Anne Chamberland, CRI-VIFF, Université Laval
Marie-Marthe Cousineau, Université de Montréal
Lise Gervais, Relais-femmes
Sylvie Gravel, CRI-VIFF, Université de Montréal
Elizabeth Harper, CRI-VIFF, Université de Montréal
Anne Kouraga, CRI-VIFF, Université Laval
Francine Lavoie, Université Laval
Maryse Rinfret-Raynor, Université de Montréal
Gilles Rondeau, Université de Montréal

New York Institute of Medicine

THE SOCIAL WORK LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE AT THE NEW YORK ACADEMY OF MEDICINE: PREPARING THE FIELD OF SOCIAL WORK TO TAKE THE LEAD ON AGING

Sarah Sisco, MSSW, MPH
Patricia Volland, MSW, MBA


For the past 50 years, the combination of reduced fertility and a near increase of 20 years in the average lifespan have produced a significant boost to the median age worldwide. In the United States and other countries, World War II gave way to elevated birth rates, producing a generation that has now arrived at later life stages. With copious progress made to elongating and improving the lifespan, we face significant long-term challenges in effectively meeting the complex needs of older adults.

Increased demands on the social, medical, and public health services are imminent. Social workers, particularly those who work in public health or medical settings and in collaboration with other disciplines, have an array of significant responsibilities providing for the aging Baby Boomer generation. According to the National Institute of Aging, however, Americans will need 70,000 professional social workers to be trained in the next 15 years, because less than 3 percent of social work students currently pursue a specialty in gerontology.

While it is important for social workers to be trained in the field of aging, and to effectively negotiate systems of care, it is critical that they develop skills to become aging-savvy leaders. The Social Work Leadership Institute (SWLI), located at the New York Academy of Medicine, is an effort that aims to respond to this demographic shift on many levels. Its purpose is twofold: first, the SWLI aims to promote leadership development in the social work profession through response to population-based needs; second, it seeks to cultivate social workers as leaders in multidisciplinary collaboration. Composed of staff from social work, public health, business, sociology, and policy, and with specialties ranging from community-based practice to gerontology, the Institute plans to foster additional exploration to enhance social work leadership at the educational, policy and research levels.

Currently, the SWLI has two ongoing projects to address social work leadership relative to the growing aging population. The Practicum Partnership Program (PPP) is an initiative to develop master’s level training incentives for social workers to enlist, and remain in, aging-specific workplaces. Funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation, the PPP model enhances field practicum experiences at master’s level schools of social work, and exposes students to a wide range of community-based services, disciplines, and collaborative opportunities. In addition, the PPP sites foster relationships amongst and between community agencies, and receive technical assistance from the SWLI to sustain their programs beyond initial funding. Ten new PPP educational sites were established nationwide this summer, and following our Dec. 1 RFP announcement, approximately 25 more will be funded in the spring of 2006.

A second initiative of the SWLI, The Geriatric Social Work Public Policy Center, is funded by Atlantic Philanthropies and builds on the work of other national leaders by enhancing political support to sustain social and health services for older adults. The Center is currently developing a long range policy agenda to ensure that social workers remain competent in meeting the needs of increasingly older populations -— the agenda, ultimately, is to be adopted by significant regional and national entities. The Center has also created a method to monitor and coordinate policy-relevant actions of those invested in the future of social work and aging. Both PPP and Policy Center projects will involve the promotion and use of evidence-based research for social work practice and public policy. (For more information on how schools may apply to be a PPP site, or about the Policy Coordinating Center, see our Web site at <www.socialworkleadership.org>).

Social workers in general, as well as those working in public health or multidisciplinary settings, are increasingly challenged in responding to population-level needs via increasingly complex systems of care. By keeping a macro-level perspective alongside the individual and group levels, the SWLI seeks to ensure the social work and public health response to an increased aging population is a versatile one. Social work leadership must do more than keep pace with demographic shifts -— they must think critically and collaborate effectively with other groups, particularly those who are invested in caring for older adults and their families. The effort to cultivate leadership must also be sustained long-term. Partnerships with foundations, such as the Hartford Foundation, the Hearst Foundation, and Atlantic Philanthropies, are examples of those working to build capacity and promote education and training for social workers to meet critical needs of older populations. Social workers can, through multilevel venues and diverse disciplines, make a significant contribution to working effectively and enduringly through the spectrum of peoples’ lives.

For more information about the Social Work Leadership Institute at the New York Academy of Medicine, or about our Dec. 1 RFP announcement for the Practicum Partnership Program, please see our Web site at <www.socialworkleadership.org>.

ASPPHSW Program and Registration Information

The Association of State and Territorial Public Health Social Workers has postponed its annual meeting, which was scheduled to coincide with APHA in New Orleans. The program was to include the release of the Standards and Competencies for Public Health Social Work, as well as presentations on topics including social work leadership, nutrition and obesity, suicide prevention, behavioral aspects of bioterrism, and future planning for Public Health Social Work.

The meeting will be rescheduled, and members of the Social Work Section will be notified. More information is available from Kathy Burke at <kathy.burk@msdh.state.ms.us>.

Message from your Editor

 
This has been a difficult time for our friends and colleagues along the Gulf Coast, particularly in New Orleans. APHA had hoped that the Annual Meeting would remain in New Orleans as a show of solidarity. That did not happen...but please rest assured that we will create that solidarity in other ways. I know that our members have been generous with their time and money in supporting the evacuation, recovery and rebuilding efforts. I thank you all for that. We will continue to be of support in whatever ways we can. If you are aware of colleagues and friends from that area for whom we could be useful, let us know. We can use the Social Work Section list-serve as a way to distribute information. Let Reg Hutchinson or me know if you have thoughts or ideas (contact information on page one of this Newsletter).

This issue of the Newsletter contains a lot of information from other sources. It seems a good use of this communication vehicle to make sure that critical information does not fall between the cracks. I hope that you do not find it repetitious.

The next scheduled issue of the Newsletter will be produced following the Annual Meeting. There may be a very brief issue in November if we have things that need to be announced prior to the meeting. Be sure to send me items for upcoming issues.

I look forward to seeing many of you in Philadelphia.

Bari