Intentional and Informed Learning Environments: A Blended Approach to Disrupting the Disproportionate Placement of Black Students in Special Education

Disproportionality in special education refers to the rate at which students from diverse backgrounds are placed into special education in comparison to their White peers. Disproportionality exists across public schools in America, and efforts to reduce disproportionality have been unsuccessful. Research suggests that black students and black students are rapidly qualifying into special education, receive harsher discipline methods, and are placed into self-contained special education programming at significantly higher rates than all their peers. Black students are twice as likely to qualify for special education under an emotional impairment, and three times more likely than their white peers to be identified as having an intellectual disability. Placing students in special education at monumental rates and misidentifying need is directly associated with negative outcomes, including greater involvement with the juvenile justice system and lesser access to higher education. Rooting practice in theory, this presentation will explore the perceived causes of disproportionality and align them with evidence-based solutions to create viable district-level change.

Technology as a Change Agent for Social Work Supervision

Through this presentation entitled “Technology as a Change Agent for Social Work Supervision,” attendees will gain an understanding of how technology can advance the field of social work, specifically highlighting supervision practices. The presenter will summarize scholarly literature and the implications for conducting effective telesupervision. Specifically, discussing what literature identifies as key aspects that can enhance the effectiveness of engaging in supervision through virtual means. Next, the presenter will define traditional supervision, distinguishing administrative and clinical supervision. The presenter will reveal the difficulties of the combination of administrative and clinical supervision and how reconceptualizing traditional practices through an innovative leadership approach can address those identified challenges. The presenter will demonstrate how to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to assist administrators and leaders in evaluating if onboarding a contractual telesupervision program is most effective for their organization. Finally, the presenter will discuss best practice standards for contractual telesupervision. You will leave the presentation empowered by the opportunities technology affords social work practice, especially in addressing industry issues such as provider shortages, employee turnover, and access to clinical training and development opportunities.

Social Work, we have a problem: Increasing LGBTQ competence in social work education

The presentation examines the current reality that many social work students graduate or enter field placement lacking a basic LGBTQ competence needed to deal with the unique challenges that this population presents with. The literature confirms this fact despite mandates put forth by the CSWE and the NASW Code of Ethics calling for a basic knowledge around issues of diversity and oppression. Research shows that issues of homophobia, transphobia, heteronormality, and cisgenderism continue to have an impact in social work classrooms today. Rooted in queer theory, systems theory, and relational cultural theory, an intervention in the form of a class dealing with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities has been developed. Covering issues across the lifespan, student will gain the basic knowledge needed to effectively assess and intervene with the LGBTQ community while examining the individual bias one brings to the field and developing an action plan for further development.

Examining the Need for Social Work Education and Training for Child Welfare Staff

This presentation overviews an examination of the need for social work education and training for child welfare staff. Although social workers' extensive education and ongoing training make them preferable for child welfare positions, many states have had to broaden their hiring searches for these positions. In West Virginia, child welfare staff only need to have a four-year degree. These child welfare staff members are missing crucial foundational knowledge and training for working with the vulnerable families served by the child welfare system.

There is a gap in the literature surrounding the need for social work special education and training in child welfare and whether it affects the families served. However, there is information regarding the need for some specific training that would be helpful in child welfare jobs. Given the sometimes oppressive nature of child removal systems, the need has been identified for providing child welfare staff with social justice training, specifically in anti-oppressive practice. Through collaboration between child placing agencies and social work schools through Title IV-E funding in WV, training can be implemented to increase the competence of child welfare workers that do not have previous social work education.

Implementation of Campus-wide Well-being Initiatives

This presentation highlights the final capstone project of Jack W. Wheeler in completion of his Doctor of Social Work degree at University of Kentucky.

Higher education is meant to be an environment that enriches the lives of individuals and of societies. Unfortunately, college campuses have become places for languishing as students, staff, and faculty report growing concerns related to mental health, loneliness, and poor coping behaviors. In contrast, campuses that promote well-being support the sustainability and health of future societies, stronger communities, and flourishing people.

Jack’s presentation begins with an understanding of the current issues impacting well-being on college campuses. He then explores the concept of campus-wide well-being from a socio-ecological perspective and how campuses have recently attempted to address these concerns through clinical interventions.

Next, Jack describes three papers that supported his exploration, understanding, and application of campus-wide well-being initiatives. First, a systematic literature review guides the framing of terms, theories, and processes that universities have studied to address campus-wide well-being. Jack shares the review process that he conducted and the findings from across the studies. The second paper highlights the Okanagan Charter as an international framework that is guiding campus-wide well-being efforts. Jack describes the Okanagan Charter and highlights how it is being applied around the globe. The final paper provides a case study for how one university has attempted to apply principles of the Okanagan Charter using a collective impact model. Jack reflects on the lessons learned from this case study for future application of the Okanagan Charter within and across institutions.

Bringing a Balm to Anxious Souls – A Bowen Family Systems Theory Approach to Working with Reactive Religious Families

It is no secret, anxiety is running rampant in our world today. In particular, reactivity fueled by religious beliefs has created some of the most intense conflicts in society today; whether it be Christian Nationalism fueling the attacks on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, or the ongoing flashpoints in Israel and Palestine leading to both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, or the restriction of reproductive care and LGBTQ+ rights in the name of Christian values. However, mental health clinicians often find themselves at a loss with how to work with clients and families who have been torn apart by such beliefs, either due to their own biases or general lack of education regarding religion and spirituality. In this presentation, Bowen Family Systems Theory, an evidence-based framework of human behavior, will be introduced specifically with regards to working with family systems enmeshed in religious reactivity. A conceptualization of this framework will be presented, followed by a case study demonstrating its effectiveness.

Evidence-Based Practice Skills in Social Work Education: Preparing more skillful social workers

“Why did I never learn this?” “I have been in therapy for years; why did my therapist never teach me this?” These were questions I was asked too often during my time as a clinician for an adult partial hospitalization program. My clients were referencing the concrete therapeutic skills they had learned during Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skills groups. Unfortunately, many social workers are never taught how to implement clinical evidence-based practices, such as DBT skills, during their graduate education. This inadequate clinical education leads to unprepared and unconfident mental health providers. This presentation will explore how evidence-based practices are currently taught in clinical social work education and identify the deficits of these teaching methods. Then, a conceptualization for using experiential learning techniques within the social work classroom will be explored. Finally, a DBT skills group-informed design that uses experiential learning techniques for teaching various clinical evidence-based practices will be discussed.

Behind the Color Line- Advancing Racial Equity in the American Dream

Race and social justice issues continue to play a significant role in the achievability of the American Dream for Black Americans. Drawing on parallels from W. E. B. DuBois' Souls of Black Folk, this capstone presentation will provide a systemic overview of how the color line contributes to the ever-widening achievement gap in America. Compounding historical and current-day trauma has adverse permeative effects on Blacks' emotional well-being. This capstone is concerned with promoting well-being and equity, drawing upon the empowerment theory of practice. Moreover, this capstone highlights how a critical race framework for empowerment theory in social work practice can positively impact Black Americans. This presentation highlights how community organizations can be conduits to infuse equity into Black communities. As such, it can be concluded that community settings can support empowerment directly by enhancing individual strengths or resources or indirectly by mitigating oppression. Utilizing community organizations provide a unique opportunity for social work leadership to apply racial equity strategic planning to catalyze individual and systemic change at the root level.

Bridging the Gap Between the Black Community and Mental Health: A Call to Action for Strengthening Black Children and Families

Mental health has undeniably been a taboo topic of discussion for many people to engage in across all races and ethnicities. Reasonably, due to the lack of knowledge, misunderstanding of terminology, stigma, as well as shame, society continues to be dissuaded from seeking treatment when mental health challenges arise. However, within the Black community, the percentage of utilization of mental health services is devastatingly low and is negatively impacting the well-being of Black children and families. Since Black people have been plagued with compounding contributing causes to their reluctance to seeking help, which also includes ongoing racism, systemic oppression, a variety of urban environmental factors (i.e., poor healthcare options, subpar education, and socio-economic inequalities), gender discrimination, and lack of equitable policies and laws, it is evident that there is a grave need to bridge the gap between the Black community and mental health. By bridging this gap, a valuable opportunity to change the narrative of mental health and by leaning in on the resilience that the Black community has had to possess in order to overcome slavery, this capstone confirms an essential need for improving the Black community’s overall health. Furthermore, social workers at all levels, but especially within the macro- and leadership-level, have the fiduciary duty to advocate against social injustices inflicted upon marginalized communities, such as the Black community, and need to begin thinking of more innovative ways to provide not only mental health awareness, but also enhanced mental health services to this community. By eradicating stigma, addressing systemic barriers, empowering different decision-making abilities, and reimagining mental health programs, as well as policies and laws; together, we can work towards healing the Black community and improving the overall wellness of Black children and families.

From Concept to Completion: Trauma-Informed Approaches to Program Design and Evaluation in Child Welfare Serving Agencies

Trauma is a public health issue that affects individuals, families, and communities. Children who enter child welfare face a substantial risk of re-traumatization secondary to multiple factors including but not limited to failed reunification, disruption of foster care placements, or a lack of child welfare serving agencies (CWSA) that incorporate trauma-informed care (TIC) as an expectation in their organization. Historically marginalized communities face a higher risk due to the overrepresentation of these communities in child welfare.

Child welfare serving agencies are in a unique position to not only treat trauma but to mitigate the risk of trauma by incorporating trauma-informed approaches to the program design and evaluation of their programs. This presentation begins with an examination of a systematic literature review on trauma-informed care in program design and evaluation. This presentation identifies methods agencies may take to apply trauma-informed approaches to program design and evaluation including the use of technology and the conceptualization of Relational Cultural Theory (RCT); a theory traditionally used in direct practice, and its adaptability to mezzo and macro social work practice.

Removing the Masc: Dismantling Gendered Occupations through Social Work Education

Have you heard the conversations and encouragement for females to enter STEM; what about for males to enter health, education, administration, and linguistic (HEAL) fields?

Join the presenter as he explores how “masculine mystique, the mask that men wear psychologically which prevents them from experiencing aspects of themselves associated with femininity and helps them maintain distance and power over others,” contributes to occupational segregation (Kahn, 2009, p. 283). Research has found that hypermasculinity and hegemonic masculinity keep men in high-risk male-dominated occupations. In addition, data reveals that male-dominated occupations have higher rates of physical injuries, depression, and anxiety due to the demands to be physically tough, fearless, and emotionally isolated in the face of risk and danger.

Next, work-life spillover and how that impacts individuals holistically will be brought forward while recognizing that men’s mental health, often affected by work, has ramifications for all. Austin will discuss theories, childhood, gendered language, and the research that suggests they influence males not to enter female-dominated occupations. Hear how this project evolved into a conceptualization through an intersectional lens to find that female-dominated occupations are more often female-majority and male-dominated. New theories to best understand this ideology and concepts, such as the glass escalator and the gender wage gap, will be acknowledged.

Furthermore, receive how this is a social work education issue and an identified grand challenge in social work, as it aligns with the dignity and worth of all individuals. Austin is taking action by applying what Hampton (1969) said, “theory’s cool, but theory with no practice ain’t shit” (as cited in Malloy, 2017, p. 9). Lastly, the presenter will discuss how these practices can be evaluated, future research ideas, and provide an opportunity for Q&A. Join as Austin presents HEAL (HIMM) health, illness, men, and masculinities to promote systemic change.

In-home therapy for the Medicaid population

This capstone presentation focuses on implementing in-home therapy for the Medicaid population in New York state. This project aims to explore why and how in-home mental health services should be an option for Medicaid recipients and to provide a systematic, evidence-based approach to rendering services.

The presentation will cover the three completed papers:

A systematic literature review (SLR): The first part of the presentation will cover the findings of an SLR, which was conducted to identify and synthesize relevant research on in-home therapy for low-income groups. The results of this review provide an evidence-based foundation for integrating in-home therapy into social work.

A conceptual paper: The second part of the presentation will focus on the systems theory of social work, which provides a practical framework for the transition to in-home therapy and highlights its benefits. The presentation will highlight the core mission of social work as defined by the National Association of Social Workers and how the systems theory aligns with this mission. This part of the presentation will demonstrate how a holistic approach that considers all aspects of the individual, including their cumulative identities and experiences, is necessary to address mental health in the Medicaid population.

A practice application paper: The final part of the presentation will provide insight into the logistical aspects of developing a mobile practice. This section will include obtaining funding, a case study, training, privacy and confidentiality, and burnout. 

This presentation aims to demonstrate the importance of in-home therapy for the Medicaid population and provide a functional, evidence-based plan to support this approach.