American Public Health Association
800 I Street, NW • Washington, DC 20001-3710
(202) 777-APHA • Fax: (202) 777-2534 •

Social Work
Section Newsletter
Spring 2010

Greetings from the Chair

Theora Evans, ChairSpring has sprung, and Section leadership is quite busy. The rebranding efforts of APHA are under way. As a result of the latter, our Section will have a new look as a component of the “ALL Things APHA Pavilion” making its debut at the 138th Annual Meeting in Denver. The Social Work Section will share a pavilion pod with Mental Health, Public Health Nursing, and Medical Care. We anxiously await the fruits of our labor and your feedback; be sure to visit the exhibit area!


In May, U.S. News and World Report published an article that stated medical and public health social work will be one of the 50 best careers in 2010 and beyond. Social work is described as one of the fastest growing fields in the United States, according to Labor Department data.


June will be a very important month. Section leadership and I are encouraging early-bird registration for the Annual Meeting (Nov. 6-10, 2010).  This year’s theme is Social Justice: A Public Health Imperative; the website opened June 1 for registration.  Additionally, Section elections will open and run from mid-June through mid-July. It is anticipated that election results will be posted by the second week of August. Check your e-mail for announcements related to the start of the election period.  I am originally from Chicago; I subscribe to the belief that we should vote early and vote…. 


The 2010 Social Work Congress (Reaffirm, Revisit, and Re-Imagine the Profession) was held in Washington, D.C., on April 22 - 23.  The presenting sponsor of the Congress was the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). I was able to accept the invitation extended to the Social Work Section of APHA. I, along with others, in various capacities, represented the voice of public health social work practitioners. Over 400 participants of the Congress engaged in a nominal group process, “To create a set of imperatives that would address some of the key (internal) challenges for the future of the profession”.  A summary of the meeting and its outcomes are available on the NASW website.


Many of the imperatives derived from the process are clear mandates for the profession. While attending the Congress a reoccurring thought emerged. Whether by virtue of our fields of practice or the modes of practice, social workers are splintered/fragmented as a group. We have not presented a united front in recent years. When was the last time that leadership from NASW, CSWE, NADD, BPD, AOSW, ASWB, NABSW, ASTPHSW, LASW, etc. jointly endorsed a policy or put the weight of organizational membership behind a vehicle for change? We have power by virtue of our numbers, knowledge-base, and practice skills; solidarity could alter our image and our influence (internally and externally). Strengthening collaboration across social work organizations for the purpose of share advocacy goals is one of ten imperatives resulting from the Congress. I left the meeting pondering the following: “Why are we not stronger activists for ourselves; we certainly are diligent as advocates for others?


Theora Evans, PhD, MPH, MSW

Section Chair

News from the Chair Elect

Hello Social Work Section Colleagues:

 Rob Keefe, Chair Elect

I am convinced that this year’s conference will be a banner year for the Social Work Section.  We had a record number of abstracts submitted, and I believe the accepted abstracts will showcase the wonderful work many of our Social Work Section members are engaged in throughout the country. I am so grateful to the many of you who submitted abstracts and hope that you will be able to join us in Denver. 


As we move forward to the conference please keep in mind that the Section is looking to its members who are interested in collaborating on a book on “public health social work practice.”  Along with a workgroup of Section members, we have been developing chapter topics and outlines. I am pleased to say that some of you have written to me to express interest in collaborating on this project. We hope that the book, the royalties from which will go to the Social Work Section, will be both timely and informative. The Section has secured a publication contract with Springer Publishing and looks to have a draft ready by next year’s conference. As program planner I am pleased to be a part of this worthwhile endeavor and to have such wonderful colleagues joining me.


I look forward to seeing you all in Denver and to continue dialoguing with you on how to help our Program continue to lead the way in public health social work practice.


Rob Keefe
Chair-Elect, Social Work Section
Associate Professor
School of Social Work
University at Buffalo
State University of New York

Each One Bring One!

Hopefully, as you read this article, you are also taking some time to enjoy the summer, but not relaxing to the point of forgetting your Public Health Social Work roots!  As I repeat my mantra from our previous newsletter article on membership, I am challenging each of our members to bring a member into our Section! As we enjoy the summer, think about encouraging those colleagues that you meet during your summer visits and vacation getaways to alumni events, who would be wonderful additions to our Section, and approach them about the idea of joining our Section. Personal approaches seem to be the most effective approaches toward recruiting new members.

As a Section, our executives have reviewed and affirmed drafts of recruitment letters that APHA is forwarding on our behalf to lapsed members. However, if you have colleagues that you know have been members, ask them if they are still active members and encourage them to re-instate their membership if they are not active members.

Did you know that the Social Work Section was established in 1970 to provide a focus for social work within APHA? The Section makes available opportunities for social workers to collaborate with other health professionals and the general public around APHA activities.  The main focus is designed to develop health policy to improve the quality of life for the public, plus provide the necessary resources for social workers in public health.  In addition, there are a number of benefits that  the Social Work Section offers to its members to include:

·  A Student awards program

·  Networking opportunities

·  Publication and collaboration opportunities

·  Mentoring opportunities for social workers working in public health arenas

·  Opportunities to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Social Work Section during our Annual Meeting in Denver this fall.

·  Subscriptions to our award-winning publications, The Nations Health and The American Journal of Public Health.  Together these readings will keep you updated on the latest news in the public health world, and informed of the latest scientific and research developments.

·  CareerMart, APHA’s public career resource center, available to members free of charge at (This is a very valuable resource for our colleagues that may be seeking new opportunities during the current fiscal climate).

·  Publications: APHA maintains a book list of more than 50 titles, including many that are national and international standard-bearers.  As an APHA member you receive up to 30 percent off the list price of books and other media items related to public health.  The catalog can be browsed at


In our next article we will report on our current statistics on membership for our Section, and the trends in our membership. In the meantime, please join me in trying to “Bring One” into our section!


Elaine Jurkowski, MSW, PhD

Membership Chair

Notes From the Action Board

Congratulations!!!!   APHA's #1 advocacy priority for the 2010 second sessions of the 111th Congress was the passage of health reform legislation. Thanks to all who sent e-mails, letters and made phone calls to Congress. Passing this reform is vital to supporting the health care needs of the individuals social workers encounter on a daily basis.


The Action Board held its mid-year meeting on May 17-18.  The agenda focused on updates from the policy, communication and advocacy committees, as well as an overview of the upcoming Public Health Action Campaign (PHACT campaign).  This fall, members will unite to advocate and educate legislators about the need to support strong public health prevention provisions in health reform.  For more information regarding the PHACT fall campaign, members can download the new APHA Health Reform Fall Advocacy Toolkit from the APHA website.  Periodically, the Social Work Section will receive Action Alerts relative to APHA priorities.  Social Work members are expected to respond to these alerts by writing letters to Congress or administrators in support of or in opposition to a public health concern.  The national office is now able to track the responses from the sections.  As social workers, it is imperative that we remain on the forefront of these very critical issues.  Each response is important and paramount in promoting APHA concerns.  The policy committee of the Action Board is requesting all APHA sections to review policies that may be archived.  Contact the section chair, Dr. Theora Evans, or review APHA website for additional information on submitting policies to archive.  Finally, the Advocacy committee of the action board is planning an exciting advocacy workshop at the annual meeting.  Belinda, Action Board Rep.Dynamic speakers will share their accomplishments and advocacy experiences.


For more information regarding the activities of the action board, you may access APHA website or contact the Social Work Section Action Board representative:  Belinda Tate Hardy, MPA, LCSW, at:

It’s our 40th Anniversary Celebration!

In 2010 the Social Work Section is celebrating its 40th anniversary as a section and our roots in APHA that go back for 100 years! 

At the Annual Meeting in Denver, we are planning on beginning our celebration at the Meet and Greet session on Sunday evening (Nov. 7).   We plan to recognize the Section’s founding members and public health social work pioneers, and have invited Elizabeth Clark, NASW executive director, to speak.  Please put this date on your calendar now! – as November will be here sooner than we think.

Other plans that are in the works include creating a sticker/ribbon for all Section members to wear on their nametags that identifies our anniversary, developing a brochure to highlight our anniversary (in addition to our usual Section brochure), and festive recognition at our booth. 

If you

·         have suggestions for important pioneers to be recognized; 

·         additional ideas for celebrating during the Annual Meeting;

·         would be able to assist with planning or developing materials; or

·         would like to make a donation to support the Meet and Greet session (or the Awards reception);Jeanne Saunders



PLEASE  contact  Jeanne Saunders (, planning chair for this event.   

Fostering Positive Youth Development: Building on a Social Work Tradition

by Michele A. Kelley, ScD, MSW, MA, ACSW

James J. Stukel Professor, 2009-10, UIC Great Cities Institute;
Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
School of Public Health, Division of Community Health Sciences

Maternal and Child Health Program



Recently the National Institutes of Health published a groundbreaking Program Announcement/funding opportunity dealing with positive youth development (PYD).1  Rather than focusing community prevention efforts solely on reducing mortality, morbidity or risk behaviors, PYD is interested in building resilience and prosocial skills and positive aspirations in adolescence.2, 3  The idea is that by promoting positive youth development, risky behaviors will be prevented or reduced, particularity if PYD programs deploy local assets (e.g. existing community-based organizations or settings, natural mentors), are culturally tailored, promote positive social norms and are sustainable.4  Likewise, there is a growing interest in adolescent health literature emphasizing PYD programming for youth in schools and youth serving organizations.5  National initiatives like the Forum for Youth Investment, emphasize that “problem free is not prepared” and encourage local programming to prepare youth for “college, work and life”.6  Attention is given to the five “Cs” of positive youth development: competence, confidence, (positive social) connection, character and caring (or compassion).7


This shift from a deficit model of adolescence is not new. There is a rich tradition in Social Work with Groups focused on youth, which flourished in settlement houses and in early work with “street gangs”.8, 9  The goals of these efforts were to create positive alternatives for socially marginalized youth and to foster positive social skills and a healthy sense of self through social learning/ modeling theory. Some of the current initiatives we see as a result of this new emphasis are the development of youth councils in civic and professional organizations; engaging youth in community problem solving; and engaging youth in community building such as through positive social media, service learning, violence prevention and community gardening.10  These activities can grow social capital in local communities and put youth in touch with extrafamilial adult supports which in turn can link youth with new resources for advancing education or job opportunities. The challenges are to capture youth outcomes as well as how program and setting characteristics contribute to success.11-13  Public health Social Workers are in a unique position to advocate for, develop and evaluate PYD programming in schools and communities.  




1. National Institutes of Health. Reducing risk behaviors by promoting positive youth     development (R01). Available at: Accessed June 2, 2010.

2. Pittman KJ, Martin S, Yohalem N. Youth development as a" big picture" public health strategy. Journal of Public Health Management & Practice. 2006;12:S23.

3. Pittman K. Preventing problems, promoting development, encouraging engagement: Competing priorities or inseparable goals? Washington, D.C.: The Forum for Youth Investment; 2003. Available from:

4. Romeo KE, Kelley MA. Incorporating human sexuality content into a positive youth development framework: Implications for community prevention. Children and Youth Services Review. 2009; 31 (9):1001-1009.

5. Lerner RM, Alberts AE, Jelicic H, Smith LM. Young people are resources to be developed:  Promoting positive youth development through adult-youth relations and  community assets. In: Clary EG, Rhodes JE, eds. Mobilizing Adults for Positive Youth Development: Strategies for Closing the Gap between Beliefs and Behaviors. New York, NY: Springer; 2006:19-39.

6. The forum for youth investment. Available at: Accessed June 2, 2010.

7. Lerner RM, Dowling EM, Anderson PM. Positive youth development: Thriving as the basis of  personhood and civil society. In: Lerner RM, Taylor CS,  von Eye A, eds. Pathways to Positive Development among Diverse Youth: New Directions for Youth Development. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley; 2002:11-33.

8. Coyle GL. Group Work with American Youth: A Guide to the Practice of Leadership. Harper; 1948.

9. Northen H, Kurland R. Social Work with Groups. New York: Columbia University Press; 2001.

10. Bozlak CT, Kelley MA. Youth participation in a community campaign to pass a clean indoor air ordinance. Health Promotion Practice. 2009:1524839908330815v1.

11. Lerner RM. Promoting positive youth development: Theoretical and empirical bases. Workshop on the Science of Adolescent Health and Development, National Research Council. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences; 2005.

12. Maton KI. Empowering community settings: Agents of individual development, community betterment, and positive social change. Am J Community Psychol. 2008;41(1-2):4-21.

13. Hansen DM, Larson RW. Amplifiers of developmental and negative experiences in organized activities: Dosage, motivation, lead roles, and adult-youth ratios. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. 2007;28(4):360-374.

Did You Miss It?!

The Nation’s Health featured an article about the Social Work Section’s plans to create a book on public health social work.  

Read the full article from the May/June 2010 edition here (go to page 19).

Looking Ahead

The Fall 2010 issue of the newsletter will be published in September.

Please send your

  • Articles
  • Announcements
  • Photos
  • Book Reviews
  • Project Updates
  • News
  • Notes

for the upcoming Fall Newsletter to the editor, Jennifer Saunders!

APHA Initiatives on Transportation and Public Health

As we all appreciate, our health is profoundly affected by our transportation decisions and options. Limited opportunities for physical activity, higher exposure to poor air quality, higher incidences of adult and childhood obesity and greater prevalence of asthma and cardiovascular disease are a few of the inequities brought by poor transportation policies. As part of our effort to enhance crosscutting activity and knowledge among various APHA members and sections, APHA is developing advocacy materials and helpful information related to the links between transportation and public health.

If anyone is interested in learning more about this initiative, sharing success stories or lessons learned, or establishing a new Forum on Transportation and Public Health, please reach out to us!

Interested members are asked to contact Eloisa Raynault at

APHA 2010 Section Elections

APHA's 2010 Section elections are in progress, and you can vote online. The elections began June 18, 2010 and end on July 23, 2010. On June 18, you received an e-mail notification letting you know that your election is open. The e-mail subject line was "APHA Voting Information Enclosed".  This e-mail also contains instructions on how to vote online!

APHA has set up an election webpage.  Visit the webpage to view the election vacancies for 2010.

As a member of APHA, your involvement in the selection of your leadership is an integral part of your Association's governance.

For 1 in 10 Medicaid Patients, it’s Back to the Hospital in Less than a Month

New report from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project:

One of every 10 adult Medicaid patients who were hospitalized in 2007 for a medical condition other than childbirth had to be readmitted at least once within 30 days of their initial hospital stay that year, according to a recent report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The federal agency's analysis shows that these Medicaid patients were 70 percent more likely to be readmitted at least once within 30 days, compared with their privately insured counterparts.
The report also found that the number of underlying health problems Medicaid patients had increased their likelihood of readmission. For example, 14 percent of Medicaid patients with three or more underlying health problems were readmitted within 30 days of their previous hospital stay, compared with 10 percent of those who had no health problems other than that for which they were admitted.
The highest hospital readmission rates among Medicaid patients were for:

  • HIV/AIDS — 17 percent.
  • Blood-related disorders — 14 percent.
  • Alcohol or substance abuse — 13 percent.
  • Kidney and urinary tract disorders — 12 percent.
  • Gall bladder, liver, and pancreatic problems — 12 percent.
  • Mental disorders — 12 percent.
  • Infections — 12 percent .
  • Respiratory disorders — 11 percent.
  • Diabetes and related metabolic problems — 11 percent.
High hospital readmission rates have been drawing increasing attention from policy-makers because they may reflect issues with the quality of health care provided in the hospitals, or a lack of discharge planning and outpatient follow-up. These circumstances have the potential to drive up health care costs.
These findings are based on data described in All-Cause Hospital Readmission Rates among Non-Elderly Medicaid Patients, 2007. The report uses statistics from 10 State Inpatient Databases (SID), a set of hospital databases that contain the universe of the inpatient discharge abstracts in participating States, translated into a uniform format to facilitate multi-State comparisons and analyses.  Together, the SID encompass more than 90 percent of all U.S. community hospital discharges.  The 10 SID chosen contain a reliable unique patient number that can be used to track readmissions within and across hospitals within an individual state.