Child Welfare Fellows: Leadership Training for Child Welfare Workers

Jun 14 2015

groza

The Child Welfare Fellows program, which was created in 2009 to increase the number of public child welfare employees with social work master’s degrees, has been funded again and expanded. In its first five years of funding, the specialized training program has been awarded more than $1.1 million from the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute with matching funds provided by the Mandel School and 25 child welfare employees in three Northeast Ohio counties (Cuyahoga, Lake and Summit) have obtained their Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA) degrees. With the expansion, the program is now open to full-time public child welfare staff in seven additional Ohio counties: Medina, Stark, Ashtabula, Geauga, Richfield, Huron and Trumbull.

The project is just one of 13 programs in the nation funded by the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute of the Children’s Bureau and is part of an ongoing evaluation process that includes national evaluation and tracking of fellows. Child Welfare Fellows offers up to five students/employees per year the opportunity to obtain scholarships for earning their MSSA degree in three years through the Mandel School’s Intensive Weekend program, which allows them to maintain full-time employment. For each year of funded graduate education, participants must return a year of public child welfare employment after graduating.

Strengthening the Current Child Welfare Workforce

The Child Welfare Fellows program has several distinguishing features, none more important than the fact that it supports professionals at local child welfare agencies who have demonstrated at least a two-to three-year commitment to the work. The expectation is that graduates will either enter or expand leadership roles in their agency.

Another distinguishing feature is that students move together through the master’s degree program as a cohort. This approach allows participants to expand their professional child welfare network, as their fellow students each weekend become their professional contacts during the week. It also encourages more in-depth learning, as student’s professional experiences and knowledge sharing enrich reading assignments and classroom discussions.

× “Becoming the recipient of the fellowship was life altering. Although I was a working professional, other financial responsibilities prevented me from considering graduate school. This scholarship eliminated that barrier and gave me the opportunity to grow and develop as a leader in the child welfare field.” Marquetese Betts

More Opportunities for Professional Development

Supervision and leadership coursework are part of the plan of study for each participant. The project also provides an enhanced field learning experience through individual and small group meetings to help students integrate field and course work. Prior to graduation, fellows prepare a portfolio presentation that documents their abilities and child welfare competencies over time in the program. These poster presentations culminate in a luncheon and presentation of a certificate for being part of the national initiative.

Mandel School faculty members involved with the program include: Associate Professor David Crampton (david.crampton@case.edu), Assistant Professor Zoe Breen Wood (zoe.wood@case.edu) and Beth Brindo, field faculty advisor and leadership coach (beth.brindo@case.edu).

For more information about the Child Welfare Fellows program, visit http://socialwork.case.edu/finaid/child-welfare-fellows, or contact Victor K. Groza, Grace F. Brody Professor of Parent-Child Studies (victor.groza@case.edu), or Gerald A. Strom, Senior Instructor and Intensive Weekend Program Director (gerald.strom@case.edu).


New Federal Award to Fund Health Integration and Training for At-Risk Youth

Jun 13 2015
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David Hussey, PhD

A new training program at the Mandel School aims to close the gap in behavioral health care services for at-risk children and transition-age young adults ages 18 to 25 while preparing social work master’s students for careers in advanced clinical practice.

The training program, known as Health Integration Training Expansion (HITE), is funded by a three-year, $421,000 federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration for the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training program.

HITE is a new integrated physical and behavioral health training sequence (also referred to as integrated health) that builds upon and expands the strong behavioral health competencies social work students already acquire at the Mandel School. It will prepare students to practice from a more integrated health focus, working with other health care workers to provide comprehensive health care.

Under HITE, up to 30 second-year social work master’s students in the child or adult mental health specialization will receive a training stipend and gain first-hand experience working beside doctors and nurses in several Northeast Ohio agencies doing field work with children and transition-age youth.

HITE reflects the goals of U. S. Department of Health and Human Services’ “Healthy People 2020,” an initiative to eliminate health disparities nationally, said David Hussey, PhD, associate professor of research and co-director of the social work school’s Dr. Semi J. and Ruth W. Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education.

In Cleveland, integrated health approaches are critical because of high poverty levels, poor health behaviors, exposure to violence, and mental health and substance abuse issues, Hussey said.

“The presence of a mental illness is of particular concern for transition-age youth, because the illness often leads to poor outcomes across several areas, including housing, education, employment, social relationships and quality of life. These youth often have long social service histories across multiple agencies, such as child welfare, juvenile justice and behavioral health,” Hussey added.

HITE leverages and expands strong connections with premiere health providers in Cleveland, including the Free Medical Clinic of Greater Cleveland, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, The MetroHealth System and Neighborhood Family Practice.

Each student will complete hands-on experience in a clinic or agency setting as part of their field work and advanced curriculum courses focused on health, mental health, alcohol and other drugs, or children, youth and families—all populations treated by local health centers. Field and course work will focus on social worker competencies in the areas of mental health, addictions, dual disorders, trauma treatment, violence and risk assessment (self harm), and integrated health practice. Students are also required to present a professional development seminar for peers addressing integrated health needs of at-risk youth.

For more information about HITE, contact David Hussey, Associate Professor (david.hussey@case.edu).


Researchers propose new streamlined way to analyze TSCC and trauma in children

Jun 5 2015

Fred-Butcher1

The 54-question Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC) has been used for decades to test how trauma affects youth in hopes of developing the best treatment and support possible. But interpreting the results can be labor intensive and difficult because the work is done manually and involves a complex matrix from which to draw conclusions.

Now, a social work research team at the Mandel School led by Fred Butcher, PhD, (left) a research associate at the Semi J. and Ruth W. Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education, has proposed and tested an alternative method to use the TSCC in assessing trauma in children—especially those in the juvenile justice system.

Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc. developed the tool and trauma-related questions in 1996. It’s been used around the U.S. and in countries like Sweden and China. The new methods change neither the tool itself nor the questions involved, but rather how workers assess and, ultimately, apply the results.

“Ultimately, it is all about whether the tool is easy to interpret,” Butcher said. “Some kids may have issues in several areas, but when you examine them together, you get a better sense of the severity of the issues they are having.”

Butcher and his team focused on how six mental health factors associated with a child’s trauma (anxiety, anger, dissociation, depression, sexual concerns and posttraumatic stress) were linked and scored.

The Begun Center research team analyzed TSCC test results from 2006 to 2013 for 2,268 children, age 8 to 17, in an Ohio Behavioral Health Juvenile Justice program that diverts young people from incarceration to community-based agencies to work on behavioral, substance abuse and mental health problems. Each child was assessed, as part of their intake into the program so that treatment can be targeted to their behavioral health needs, Butcher said.

The researchers found that traditional TSCC scoring worked to assess their trauma. But when looking at the total score alone, Butcher said a “muddied” picture emerged—one that didn’t provide enough details for appropriately assessing youth and targeting treatment.

Instead, Butcher and his team found that grouping the factors into two areas—one for anxiety, dissociation and post-traumatic stress and the other for anger and depression—made analyzing the results easier and more accurate.

Social workers were given options on how to score the tests, from using a child’s total score to tallying anger and depression responses for one score and anxiety, post-traumatic stress and dissociation responses for another.

Reducing scoring to two groups, Butcher said, can lighten the work burden on social workers and still provide enough useful information to design treatment programs.

“The alternative two-scale solution is not necessarily faster to score,” he said, “but it is much easier to interpret.”

The next step is to test this approach more broadly and determine how the results align with outcomes – both in terms of the accuracy of assessments, and the influence of treatment plans developed from them.

A description of how the new scoring works is detailed in the summer issue of Journal of Society for Social Work and Research’s article, “Confirmatory Factor Analysis of the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children in an At-Risk Sample of Youth.”

The study was supported with a grant from the Ohio Department of Youth Services and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (4AS3190) to Jeffrey M. Kretschmar, PhD, a contributor to the project who is a research assistant professor at the Mandel School and a Senior Research Associate at the Begun Center.

Daniel J. Flannery, the Dr. Semi J. and Ruth W. Begun Professor at the Mandel School and director of the Begun Center, and Mark I. Singer, the Leonard W. Mayo Professor of Family and Child Welfare and deputy director of the Begun Center, also contributed to the research.


Megan Holmes leads study of sibling relationships and maternal warmth to help abused children

May 21 2015

holmesResearchers at Case Western Reserve University have begun studying 1,700 children from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) database to understand how mothers and siblings can protect abused children who have witnessed family violence.

“I want to focus on their positive characteristics in protecting children and eventually create an intervention that builds on those strengths,” said Dr. Megan R. Holmes, assistant professor of social work at the Mandel School.

Holmes is leading the two-year project, “The Longitudinal Effects of Family Violence: Sibling Factors and Maternal Parenting.” The study builds on Holmes’ investigations into intimate partner violence (IPV) between adults in the home and how it affects children, both physically and psychologically.

All the children selected from the NSCAW database have been investigated by Child Protective Services for some form of maltreatment.

The survey’s information provides researchers with first-hand accounts by parents, teachers and caseworkers about the children’s circumstances. Each child has had data collected about his or her family life at four different times from birth to 11 years old.

Holmes received $158,500 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health (grant #1R03HD078416-01A1) to support the project. She will be assisted by Dr. Adam Perzynski, assistant professor of medicine, and Dr. Sonia Minnes, associate professor of social work at the Mandel School.

The project will examine the relationship between child abuse (neglect, physical and/or psychological mistreatment), sibling dynamics (birth order, gender and number of children in the family), maternal warmth (nurturing, support, love, concern, comfort and trust) and the social and emotional adjustment of the abused children over time.

“Better sibling relationships have better outcomes,” Holmes said.

Holmes has witnessed how older children have protected and shielded younger family members from seeing and hearing violence in the homes. As a result, however, the older children tend to have more mental health problems, she said.

Through her research, Holmes hopes to change that outcome and learn how:

  • Internal and external behavior patterns and social skills develop in IPV-exposed children;
  • Child abuse effects this behavioral and social development in IPV-exposed children;
  • Sibling factors can work to protect the abused child exposed to IPV in the home;
  • And what particularly in maternal warmth buffers children against witnessing and experiencing family violence.

Holmes also has a study underway examining the quality of sibling relationships, which she expects to contribute to designing an intervention that focuses on positive factors in those relationships.


Doctoral Training: Studying Protective Factors that Promote Well-Being for Maltreated Children

May 10 2015

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The Mandel School received a two-year, $200,000 training grant to fund three studies about why some children thrive despite being abused and witnessing violence in the home. Megan R. Holmes, PhD, assistant professor and the study’s lead investigator, believes the research could help victims of abuse and neglect by learning why some children are more resilient to it. By understanding child resiliency, social workers and policymakers can implement interventions and programs that focus on protective factors that promote resiliency in maltreated children.

The training grant provides support for three studies of children ages 3 to 17: One by Holmes, plus two dissertations by Mandel School doctoral candidates Julia Kobulsky and Susan Yoon, whom Holmes will mentor.

Holmes’s study will focus on how witnessing domestic violence in the home impacts the academic performance from preschool to middle school. Kobulsky will examine the use of substances in children up to age 17, with a particular interest in those who begin using before age 13. Yoon will study the development of behavioral problems of children 4 to 13. The researchers will share what they learn with social workers and policymakers who address children’s issues. They expect to present their findings during a symposium in 2016 with the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services.

The Mandel School was one of just five schools nationally to receive this training grant funding, which was provided by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Fellowships for University-Based Doctoral Candidates and Faculty for Research in Child Maltreatment from the Administration of Children, Youth and Families division of the Children’s Bureau.

For more information, contact Megan R. Homes, PhD, Assistant Professor (megan.holmes2@case.edu).


Interdisciplinary Training: The Early Intervention Related Service Training Program

May 9 2015

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The Early Intervention Related Service Training Program (EIRSTP) is a collaborative project between the Department of Communication Sciences at Case Western Reserve University and the Mandel School, where it is directed by Gerald Mahoney, PhD, Verna Houck Motto Professor of Families and Communities.

The program is designed to provide speech-language pathology students and social work students the professional skills needed to become certified early intervention service providers for young, at-risk children or children with disabilities and their families. The interdisciplinary specialty program was funded by a grant from the United States Office of Special Education Programs.

This project addresses the significant shortages of social workers and speech-language pathologists qualified to provide services to children birth to age 5 with disabilities. During each year of the five-year project, four speech-language pathology graduate students and social work graduate students will be accepted into the EIRSTP. The result will be a total of 40 additional related services personnel qualified and credentialed to provide evidence-based services to Ohio’s eligible infants, toddlers and preschoolers in Part C Early Intervention (EI) and Part B Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE).

× “Studying with the speech therapy students provided a unique experience and perspective of combining two schools of thought that I have been able to implement into my current field placement.”

Kaitlin Carden

Trainees receive a stipend and tuition support to attend a summer institute on early intervention, plus tuition support for the following academic year. The first training cohort began in the summer of 2014.

For more information, contact Gerald Mahoney, PhD, Verna Houck Motto Professor at the Mandel School (gerald.mahoney@case.edu) or Barbara A. Lewis, PhD, Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences, Communication Disorders program (barbara.lewis@case.edu).


$588,000 Federal Grant Will Expand Child Welfare Fellows Scholarship Program

Mar 5 2015
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Victor K. Groza, PhD

The Mandel School has received a four-year, $588,000 grant from the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute to provide tuition to 20 social workers from child welfare agencies, expanding the Child Welfare Fellows scholarship and educational training program to seven additional Ohio counties (Medina, Stark, Ashtabula, Geauga, Richfield, Huron and Trumbull) in addition to Cuyahoga, Summit and Lake counties.

The goal is to increase the number of public child welfare workers with master-level social work training. Such advance training allows them to learn new practices in their field, from investigating hotline calls about child abuse to assisting children who age out of the foster program at 18.

The school will also will provide an additional $969,538 to offset tuition costs not covered by the grant for the Child Welfare Fellows program.

Applications, with a leadership essay, must be received before April 1. (Details can be found at http://msass.case.edu/finaid/child-welfare-fellows.) To qualify for the Child Welfare Fellows program, candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree and be employed by a public child welfare agency in one of the 10 targeted Northeast Ohio counties. The program takes three years to complete. However, social workers with a Bachelor’s of Social Work (BSW) earned in the past seven years can complete the curriculum in two years.

The Intensive Weekend format of the on-campus MSSA program allows students to continue working full-time, while incorporating what they learn in their jobs, said Victor K. Groza, the Grace F. Brody Professor of Parent-Child Studies at the Mandel School and the program’s director.

In addition to weekend courses, the social workers will have a field placement experience (the hallmark of the Mandel School’s program) within their agencies, but in a department different from where they work. All students will receive courses in leadership and supervision.

Child Welfare Fellows is one of just 13 funded nationally by the institute, which is housed at the Research Foundation for the State University of New York. Support for these programs is through the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children Bureau (grant #90CT7002-02-00).

Since 2009, the Mandel School has received $1.13 million from the institute to help build highly trained child welfare staffs that bring new practices and leadership to social service agencies after earning a Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA) degree, Groza said.

To date, the Child Welfare Fellows program has trained 25 social workers from Cuyahoga, Lake and Summit counties. Twenty-four are still working in their child welfare agencies—two of whom were promoted after completing the program.

The new funding adds technology-driven coaching to the training. The program will also offer supervisor training for Cuyahoga County child welfare workers with a license in social work who need two hours per week of job supervision to reach the next level of licensure.


$200,000 Federal Grant Received to Study Children Who Thrive Despite Abuse

Nov 24 2014

Megan HolmesThe Mandel School received a two-year, $200,000 grant to study why some children thrive, achieve and develop despite being abused and witnessing violence in the home.

Megan R. Holmes, PhD, assistant professor of social work and the study’s lead investigator, believes the research could potentially help victims of abuse and neglect by learning why some children are more resilient to it. By understanding child resiliency, social workers and policymakers can implement interventions and programs that focus on protective factors that promote resiliency in maltreated children.

Dr. Holmes said such mistreatment is a prevalent public health concern that has both immediate and long-term consequences on a child’s behavior and academic performance. In 2012, Child Protective Services’ national report, “Child Maltreatment 2012,” found that 686,000 children suffered maltreatment, defined as abuse and neglect.

The training grant provides support for three studies: one by Dr. Holmes and two dissertations by Mandel School doctoral students Julia Kobulsky and Susan Yoon, whom Dr. Holmes will mentor. The researchers will study children from 3 to 17 years old.

Kobulsky will examine the use of substances in children up to age 17, with a particular interest in those who begin using before age 13. Yoon will study the development of behavioral problems of children 4 to 13. Dr. Holmes’ study will focus on how witnessing domestic violence in the home impacts the academic performance from preschool to middle school.

The grant is provided by U. S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Fellowships for University-Based Doctoral Candidates and Faculty for Research in Child Maltreatment from the Administration of Children, Youth and Families’ division of the Children’s Bureau.

The Mandel School was among five nationally to receive the federal grant.

The researchers intend to share what they learn with social workers and policymakers who work with and address children’s issues. They expect to present their findings during a symposium in 2016 with the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services.