Monday, November 23, 2015

Social Work Club "Give a Meal" Service Project Raises $1,149

Through its "Give a Meal" service project, the Social Work Club has raised $1,149 in cash and meal swipe donations (each meal swipe, used to purchase meals in the dining hall, is worth $6.50).
Rosemarie Donley, Director of Associated Charities, and members of the
Social Work Club unbox food for the Food Bank
These funds were used to purchase food in bulk through AU's dining services, which allowed the students to purchase more food per dollar than if they had gone to a traditional grocery store.
Social Work Club members stock shelves in the Ashland County Food Bank
The food purchased was donated to Associated Charities and the Ashland County Food Bank, which distributes food and some taxable (personal hygiene) items to individuals and families in need in Ashland County.
From left to right: Social Work Club members Bethany Jelenic, Jessica James,
Bailey Fullwiler, Jocelyn Bean, and Maria Erste
Congratulations, Social Work Club, on a job well done!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

AU Social Work Professor & Field Director Nancy Udolph Presents at NASW Ohio Conference

Nancy Udolph, Associate Professor and Field Director of Ashland University's Social Work Program, presented Paving the Way for Trauma-Informed Organizations at the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Ohio Chapter Annual Conference last Friday.  NASW, according to the Ohio Chapter website, "is the largest professional organization of social workers in the world."

This year's conference, which focused on paving the way for change, hosted breakout workshops, poster presentations, an awards banquet, and keynote presentations on the future of social work practice in America and on harm reductive services in the trans community.

"Trauma-informed care is a best practice in the social work profession.  When incorporated into an agency's mission, philosophy and policies, all practitioners can delivery consistent, quality care that positively impacts client retention," says Udolph. "It also prevents burnout by training and supporting professionals in delivering appropriate and effective services to their clients."

A summary of Professor Udolph's presentation from the NASW Conference site is below.

According to the Trauma Informed Care Project, “Trauma Informed Care is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma” (p. 1). Too often, social workers focus on treatment  without ensuring that their organizations are also supportive of the theory and method behind the treatment. Social workers are becoming trauma-informed but, if their organizations do not get onboard, it will be difficult to pave the way for true community change. This workshop will outline steps to take to create trauma-informed organizations and communities in an effort to avoid re-traumatizing survivors.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Family Violence Class Hosts Variety of Local Professionals, Teaches Conflict Management Techniques

In Professor Kuo's Family Violence (SOCWK 305) class, students learned from a variety of local experts in social services, mental health and law enforcement.

The Family Violence course, which examines dynamics of power and control in intimate relationships, covers the topics of child abuse, domestic violence, and elder abuse.

"Having [students learn from] practitioners in the field adds value to the theoretical content, more so than just reading about the concepts in a textbook," says Professor Kuo.   Likewise, learning from experts who address family violence, either by working with victims and perpetrators directly or by working with the community as a whole, adds depth to the course.  "One instructor can't cover the vast field of family violence the way individual experts can," observes Kuo.

Guest speakers hosted by Professor Kuo include:

Intimate Partner Maltreatment/Domestic Violence
Child Abuse/Maltreatment
Elder Abuse/Maltreatment
  • Command Sergeant Major in Army Reserve 

Professor Kuo also addressed broader topics such as use of violence in the media and the impact of abuse and violence on mental health (the latter topic was covered in class by the Executive Director of the Ashland County Mental Health and Recovery Board).   The Director of Medina County Job and Family Services spoke with students about the impact of adverse childhood experiences on future mental health. 

Learning about family violence doesn't just prepare students for working with clients who are impacted by violence.  "Elements addressed in the course - values, ethics, parenting strategies, management of conflict - weave their way through our own experiences, too," Kuo notes.  "And this course teaches students options for managing conflicts that arise in their own lives as well as the lives of clients."

The topics and skills taught in the course, while valuable, can be challenging for students, some of whom may have been affected by family violence themselves.  "Family violence tends to be a sensitive topic," says Kuo.   "I use reflection journal assignments and debriefings to help my students process what they are learning and to cope with the impact the course may have." 

Family Violence, SOCWK 305, is offered each fall and fulfills a core requirement for social sciences. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

NPR Article Highlights Impact of Social Workers at Aurora Sinai Medical Center

Social work is known as being a helping profession.  While most people attribute this help to the clients they serve, few people know that social work can help organizations save money. The cost benefit of using social workers to intervene in the lives of patients and to address social issues resulting in repeated returns to the emergency room at a Milwaukee hospital is described in this NPR article.  The hospital estimated having saved over $1 million by placing social workers in their emergency room. 

"Stories like this are actually common-place but get little attention by the media," said Dr. Michael Vimont, director of Ashland University's Social Work Program. "So, by addressing the needs of people through a comprehensive psycho-social approach by using social workers, organizations can meet the needs of their clients and save money."

To learn more about the program and the methods used by the Aurora Sinai social workers, you can read the full article here.