Barry University School of Social Work
Calendar  July 2017 Issue

Barry University & DCF partner to train former foster youth for the workforce

Barry University’s School of Social Work and the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) partnered to launch a two-week program designed to give former foster youth and independent living teens ages 18 and older the training they need to adequately prepare for the workforce.

The Fostering Success: Summer Training Program, an immersion experience hosted on Barry’s main campus in Miami Shores, took place June 17–30. Twelve former foster youth were provided training and exposure to developmental and professional job skills. This training was specifically structured to quickly build long-term work habits and confidence — from the fundamental skills of professionalism, presenting content and stress management to the more subtle and sophisticated skills of taking initiative and leading a group.

Through this experience, participants identified and connected with a mentor, had the opportunity to utilize the learned skills on group presentations and, at the end, received a certificate of completion.

“The goal of the program was to help these youth develop the habits, attitudes and skills needed to get and keep a job, become self-sufficient and economically stable, and reach personal success,” said Dr. Jennifer Williams, BUSSW’s undergraduate director and project coordinator.

The trainings covered several topics, including: human resources; professionalism; leadership; financial literacy; conflict resolution; stress management; mindfulness; self-awareness and self-care; cultural diversity; public speaking; relationship building (in and out of the workplace); resume writing; interview preparedness; and understanding emerging technology.

DCF chose Barry as a partner because the University’s School of Social Work houses one of six clinical graduate programs in the country and is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. It is one of the few social work programs in the country whose curriculum provides a trauma-informed resiliency-based framework — knowledge DCF believes is vital when working with the Fostering Success participants. Additionally, says DCF, Barry is able to provide competent, ethical and professional social workers to deliver the trainings.

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Trauma and Suffering: Faith-based Approaches and Interventions Conference

On May 12, Barry University’s School of Social Work and the Departments of Theology and Campus Ministry co-hosted a conference on the impact of trauma and suffering on families and communities in Florida.

This conference addressed the impact of trauma and suffering in the context of urban poverty, violence experienced in the home and community, and grief and loss on the family. The purpose of the conference was to: bring together social service providers with faith-based leaders and theologians to gain a better understanding of our concepts of trauma and suffering from our professional disciplines; to establish a link between our efforts to address the problems and issues experienced by at risk children, youth and families; and to discuss intervention strategies and approaches that we can use to strengthen and empower these families and communities.

The conference recognized that ministers, church-based faith leaders and social workers in faith-based social service agencies regularly encounter individuals and families who are repeatedly exposed to trauma. These families, especially families of color, are often more likely to seek comfort and support from a faith-based representative or organization before seeking traditional mental health services. Also, these individuals and families most often live in areas with few options, other than their community church or community based social service agencies, to seek help and assistance.

Special guest speakers included Dr. Brian Sims, Senior Medical Advisor, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors & Consultant, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SAMHSA. During his session, he spoke about the risk faced by individuals and families exposed to repeated traumatic events in their lives and the impact of prolonged suffering on the mind, body and spirit. Panel discussions addressed the implications of treating communities dealing with multiple levels of trauma and suffering, and implications of addressing trauma and suffering on faith-based leaders, churches and social service agencies. The conference also highlighted clinically and theologically informed intervention approaches that faith-based leaders and service providers can utilize to address these issues in their congregations and agencies.

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Marking the one-year anniversary of Orlando’s Pulse tragedy with the “Spread Love, Not Hate” campaign

June 12, 2017, marked the one-year anniversary of Orlando’s Pulse tragedy, when 49 individuals were killed and 53 others were injured in a senseless act of hate and violence. This tragedy shed light on the devastating consequences of homophobic and transphobic hate.

More importantly, the world’s response to this tragedy highlighted our capacity to stand together in unity, offering compassion, love and support for the LGBTQ+ community. To honor all those who have suffered as a result of homophobic and transphobic violence, oppression and marginalization, Barry University’s Center for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ) launched a month-long “Spread Love, Not Hate” campaign. Specifically, CHRSJ concentrated on raising awareness about and support for homeless and unstably-housed LGBTQ+ youth in South Florida.

“It is particularly important at this point in time that Barry’s CHRSJ take a visible stand against LGBTQ+ hate and make clear our unwavering support for and affirmation of LGBTQ+ individuals, locally and globally,” said Dr. Ashely Austin, a distinguished scholar with CHRSJ.

The campaign consisted of professional development workshops by Landon Woolston from Pridelines that were focused on the needs and experiences of LGBTQ+ homeless youth, writing notes of affirmation and support that were delivered to LGBTQ+ youth in our community, and a community drive to collect food for street sacks for LGBTQ+ youth who are homeless or unstably-housed. The “Spread Love, Not Hate” campaign culminated in a non-denominational, interactive remembrance hosted at Barry University by CHRSJ in partnership with Campus Ministry, Pridelines and the Alliance for GLBTQ youth.

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Alumni Spotlight:
After undergoing several heart surgeries, Joel Breneman defied the odds
Joel Breneman Joel Breneman
I went through the MSW program at the Fort Myers Campus from August 2014 to May 2017 and graduated with a 4.0. I came to Barry University after completing my undergrad at Florida Gulf Coast University, where I majored in psychology and graduated magna cum laude. During my time at Barry, I needed to get open-heart surgery (August 2016) as a result of a leaking aortic valve (congenital birth defect).

I was able to stay on track with school, attended classes via webcam and finished all my assignments on time. I have been involved in the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), the Southwest Florida Chapter, since March of 2017. The FRRC was founded by Desmond Meade, a former felon in the state of Florida who was not able to vote for his wife when she was running for office. Desmond conducted research and found out that the “state of Florida accounts for more than a quarter (27 percent) of the disenfranchised population nationally, and its nearly 1.5 million individuals disenfranchised post-sentence account for nearly half (48 percent) of the national total.” (Uggen, Larson, & Shannon, 2016, p.3) The criminal disenfranchised law denies over 6 million Americans nationally, and Florida has the most severe penalty with a lifetime ban on voting, affecting 1.6 million Americans with one-in-five being African American. (Wood, 2016)

Desmond knew that needed to change and, by talking to a good friend of his, they decided to create a ballot initiate to change the state's constitution and reform Florida's disenfranchisement policy. The Florida Supreme Court unanimously agreed to the verbiage of the initiate, and the next step is to get it on the 2018 ballot. I have attended every meeting held by the FRRC, I’ve shared my testimony on how this law has affected my life, and I was appointed as the point-of-contact for petitions in Collier County. I also go out into the community to educate and train others on the initiative so we can meet our goals.

Our goal was to have each person get 100 signed petitions, which went toward our main goal of 10,000 petitions signed by July 4, 2017. In order to get on the 2018 ballot, we need to have at least 700,000 signed petitions by Florida registered voters. We have placed petition drop boxes with the owner’s consent at business and churches, and we’ve also shown up at local community gatherings, sporting events and other places where groups of individuals may be so that we can discuss this initiative and hopefully get a signature.

I conducted a professional development workshop at Barry’s Fort Myers campus on June 17 to educate future social workers about this social injustice and how we, as social workers, can be an agent of change on the macro level. We believe this initiative has the power to transform millions of lives and make our state a better place. I was nominated for the student advocate award in 2017 and I am currently helping individuals with criminal backgrounds who want to work in the health care (mental health and substance abuse) field through the exemption processes for DCF and AHCA.

When did your desire to become a social worker start?

Ever since I was a child, I always wanted to help people. This most likely stemmed from having heart surgery at a young age and remembering how nice everyone was and how that felt. Throughout my childhood, I have experienced numerous traumatic experiences, including different forms of abuse, death of a sibling and not being able to participate in most physical activities due to my heart condition. Throughout my childhood, I would always try to make people feel wanted. I’d sit with the kids at lunch who were by themselves and I’d invite the “outcasts” to birthday parties, etc. It wasn’t until my last year as an undergrad that I was able to put a name to what I wanted to do, which was social work.

I was already working in the field for a long term recovery program, where I would consistently hear the same stories relating to growing up in a broken home, divorced parents, one or both parents were afflicted with substance abuse and/or mental health issues and forms of abuse (emotional, physical, sexual). It was common to hear people say, “I don’t know how to manage how I feel.”

I could relate to what a lot of individuals were saying due to my past, and I wanted to help individuals through their struggles so they could get back to living and doing the things they enjoy.

What made you choose Barry University to complete your graduate studies?

I chose Barry University because I could continue working full time and because Barry offered a trauma- informed curriculum, which is a necessity in the field that I work in (substance abuse).

Have you had any meaningful internship experiences?

The most meaningful internship experience was learning from my field educator. He showed me that I still have a long way to go in the learning and growing process. He also helped me through problems that arose during my internship, both on the surface level with the clients and on a personal level, if there were internal conflicts.

Is there anyone who inspired you or helped you along your journey?

Professor Irene Kepler helped me tremendously throughout my journey, especially this past year. I had a lot of setbacks in my personal life, specifically the open heart surgery, which made life difficult for a while. She was always willing to listen and help me through my struggles, and she helped me file for extensions and other school-related activities.

She also taught me a lot about advocacy. I learned a lot from her through professional development courses we attended, community events she was a part of and shared with the class, and through her own classes and the way she taught. Professor Kepler is an amazing woman, an inspiration to me and she demonstrates how I want to advocate for individuals.

What are your plans for your future career?

I would like to stay in the substance abuse field, since I am licensed in the field and there is a great need for good counselors, especially those who understand trauma and how to treat it in conjunction with the substance abuse. I would like to work on prevention as well, with adolescents and their families, and continue working on policy change. There is a lot of work that needs to be done in Florida, and social workers are the ones equipped to guide individuals and lead groups toward the change they want in their communities.

Doctoral Symposium:
An Intellectual Discourse for Students Conducting Advanced Research
Doctoral Symposium
Over 60 students, faculty and administrators from Barry and area universities participated in the Doctoral Symposium: An Intellectual Discourse for Students Conducting Advanced Research on April 18. The Symposium featured Dr. Deborah Padgett, professor of social work and global public health at New York University.

Padgett, an internationally recognized qualitative researcher, discussed her unique ethnographic research conducting a large-scale research study with vulnerable populations in her study “Making the Connection: The Value of Qualitative Methods in Community Research using the Housing First Mode.” Participants engaged in intellectual discussions related to the challenges and rewards associated with conducting advanced research.

Following the keynote, a Recognition Ceremony was held honoring nine recent Ph.D. graduates from the School of Social Work. The graduates are: Dr. Mabel Rodriguez; Dr. Jennifer Williams; Dr. Revital Goodman; Dr. Precious Osei-Skinner; Dr. Maria Teahan; Dr. Sarah Ingram-Herring; Dr. Cassandra Scott; Dr. Gena Rowlands; and Dr. Tammy Malloy.

The symposium concluded with focused roundtable discussions on the challenges and rewards of conducting advanced research. The graduates facilitated the discussions about their research interests, including community practice; parental attachment and technology; values and ethics; mass incarceration and recidivism; access to end-of-life services; complementary and integrated therapies; and homelessness chronicity among vulnerable populations.

Dr. Ashley Austin speaks about transgender issues in South Florida

The Center for Human Rights and Social Justice partnered with Our Fund and the Miami Foundation to host three panel presentations to raise awareness about and commitment to transgender issues in South Florida. The presentations took place in Ft. Lauderdale, Miami and at Barry University. Mona Pittenger, philanthropist and member of Our Fund’s Board of Directors, moderated engaging and transformative panel discussions, which included the center’s Dr. Ashley Austin, an internationally recognized expert in transgender affirmative practice. Also featured were transgender activists Mara Kiesling, president and executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, and Masen Davis of the Gill Foundation.

The discussion focused on deepening the understanding of transgender needs and experiences across the lifespan, exploring existing social, legal, political and cultural barriers to well-being, and identifying action steps for creating a more transgender-inclusive and affirming community. The events served to elevate the visibility of transgender focused activism within South Florida.

Film Screening: “Untouchable”

On June 20, Broward County Reentry Coalition Sex Offender Housing Subcommittee and Barry University School of Social Work presented the screening of the provocative documentary “Untouchable.”

The film followed a panel and Q & A about sexual violence prevention and sex offender management policies. Dr. Jill Levenson was featured as an expert in the film and served as a panel participant. Levenson has published over 100 articles about sex offender management policy and treatment interventions. In her clinical practice, she works with perpetrators of sexual violence, as well as victims, survivors and families impacted by sexual abuse.

Directed by David Feige, the documentary chronicles the crusade of the most powerful lobbyist in Florida when he discovers that the nanny has sexually abused his daughter, and how he harnesses his extraordinary political power to pass the toughest sex offender laws in the nation. “Untouchable” chronicles the impact on the lives of many of the 800,000 people forced to live under the kinds of laws he has championed. The film interweaves intimate portraits of men and women who have been branded sex offenders with the heartbreaking stories of those who have suffered sexual abuse. It is a film that pushes viewers toward an uncomfortable place, requiring them to walk in the shoes of those who have survived sexual abuse but to still bear witness to the experiences of those we revile.

NEW: Trauma Informed Social Work Practice in School Settings course offering
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Dean for a Day!
Laurel Dettman MSW ’16 Dean Thomasine Purdon
We had an amazing day with Dean Thomasine Purdon, who was the “Dean for a Day” at the School of Social Work. She visited classes, met with faculty, students, administrators and staff, gave recommendations for some of our ideas, visited faculty offices and had a tour of the campus. Prior to that, she taught a group of students how to make slime as a stress reduction tool. She had 12 students in her class and they enjoyed her very much.

BUSSW congratulates our recent Ph.D. graduates from spring 2017

Dr. Sarah Ingram-Herring

Dr. Sarah Ingram-Herring Dr. Sarah Ingram-Herring
An Exploratory Study of Factors Influencing Social Work Students’ Commitment to Community-Based Practice

This study examined what factors might influence social work students’ commitment to community-based practice by exploring the relationship between various socio-demographic characteristics, attitudes towards poverty, social empathy scores, social justice behaviors scores and commitment to community practice.

A multivariate analysis found that the level of “social justice” made the strongest contribution to “commitment to community practice.” Younger participants demonstrated possessing lesser belief in structural causations for poverty while students who identified as being liberals in comparison to moderates demonstrated more belief in structural causations of poverty.

Dr. Tammy Malloy

Dr. Tammy Malloy Dr. Tammy Malloy
Exploring the relationship between parental bonding, engagement in sexually explicit internet material in youth and hypersexual behaviors in young adult women

This study examined the relationships between parenting bonding, engaging in online sexually explicit internet material (SEIM) in youth, and hypersexual behaviors in young adult women.

Findings indicate that disturbed maternal and paternal bonding are associated with age of onset, frequency of engagement in SEIM and hypersexual behaviors in young adult women; moreover, current age and duration of engagement in SEIM predict hypersexual behaviors in young adult women. Exploring how paternal/maternal care and overprotection correlate with engagement in SEIM is crucial due to youth forming heavy attachments to technology.

Dr. Gena Rowlands

Dr. Gena Rowlands Dr. Gena Rowlands
Parental Alienation: A Measurement Tool

The purpose of this study was to design and validate a clinical assessment tool, the Parental Alienation Scale (PAS) which could readily measure the presence and magnitude of parental alienation based on the eight manifestations identified in the literature.

Findings obtained through exploratory factor analysis of the PAS appear to measure the presence and related severity of parental alienation (additional research is required to confirm these findings). Additionally, 66.3 percent of all study participants were found to have a family history of intimate partner violence (IPV), which supports the notion that parental alienation occurs more often in families with a history of IPV.

Dr. Cassandra Scott

Dr. Cassandra Scott Dr. Cassandra Scott
Exploring the Characteristics of Individuals Who Are Homeless and Diagnosed With Severe Mental Illnesses Who Also Obtained Housing Stability

Many chronically homeless individuals with severe mental illnesses live on the streets and in danger. After years of homelessness, what might it take for an individual to become sheltered? This research explored the behaviors that distinguished the people who obtained housing stability from the ones who did not.

The study found that having low Functional Assessment Rating Scores at entry and exit increased housing stability by 65 percent.

Going Social

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