Category: SSW News Releases
These are very trying times for our nation and for our own communities as we continue to witness the senseless killings of black men at the hands of police and, last week, the killing of police officers during a non-violent peaceful demonstration in Dallas. Most recently, we mourn the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. A few weeks ago, we suffered the loss of LGBTQ and Latino people in Orlando. Our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones at this difficult time.
We deal with racism and social injustices here in the United States, as we stand in solidarity with the people of France who suffered yet another violent attack and the loss of more innocent lives yesterday. Globally, we stand with all people enduring senseless violence.
As social workers, we cannot stand silent to racial injustice and the structural inequities that result in even more acts of violence. Our leadership on these issues is more important than ever. I call on members of our social work community to draw on our shared commitment to advocate for those who struggle against discrimination and injustice and to support and care for all members of society.
I am grateful to our many students, recent grads, faculty, and staff who gathered with over 1,000 others next to the Boston Police Headquarters to join the “Unity March against Police Terror” in support of the Black Lives Matter goals on Wednesday, July 13. Together with members of the Boston Health Liberation group, BUSSW community members marched in solidarity through parts of Roxbury and the South End to underscore the need to end racially-charged police brutality.
Here at BUSSW, we will continue to host conversations so that we may create awareness and foster change. I encourage you to join in these thoughtful dialogues whenever you are available. Throughout the summer, our Equity and Inclusion Committee holds weekly “Coffee, Community, and Social Justice” meetings on Tuesdays at 5:00pm in Conant Lounge. These gatherings offer a space to come together, dialogue, and discuss ways in which we might respond to racial inequities and support social justice efforts. These weekly meetings will continue during the upcoming academic year (alternating with Wednesday evenings), along with other initiatives to educate ourselves and take action on behalf of our most critical societal needs.
As we try to make sense of this violence, consider how to use your social work training to advocate for justice and reform. Whether this means education and training for our police forces; bringing awareness to racial profiling and bias; advocating for policy changes around the use of lethal force; organizing for economic justice; or helping to remove guns from our streets—these are important steps towards meaningful change in our society. Every step counts.
Assistant Professor Tom Byrne received a Special Recognition for his proposal, “Adapting Critical Time Intervention as a Scalable Solution to Crisis Homelessness” at the Pioneer Institute’s 25th annual Better Government Competition, which was held in June of this year. The Pioneer Institute is a non-partisan Boston-based public policy research institute.
Each year the Pioneer Institute hosts a gala recognizing the winner and finalists of the annual Better Government Competition. The 2016 contest explored improving quality and access to care for individuals living with mental illness, and received hundreds of submissions from throughout the country. Byrne’s proposal was one of four that was awarded a Special Recognition designation.
Byrne co-authored the proposal with Professor Dennis Culhane of the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. The proposal focuses on utilizing evidence-based practices and an innovative financing model to scale-up programmatic responses intended to prevent and end homelessness.
Currently, Byrne told BU School of Social Work, there is great interest in an intervention known as permanent supportive housing, which combines subsidized housing and ongoing supportive services. The results are impressive. Such permanent supportive housing initiatives have “been linked with nationwide 22% and 35% declines in chronic and veteran homelessness, respectively, between 2009 and 2015.”
Byrne believes we need a “less resource intensive” but equally as effective model to tackle those impacted by “crisis” homeless, 85% of the current homeless population. Crisis homelessness is described a homeless episode trigged by an event such as eviction or transition out of foster care, prison, or inpatient hospitalization. Those experiencing crisis homelessness are likely to require only short-term financial and case management assistance to regain housing stability. An emerging program model known as “rapid re-housing” provides exactly this type of help. However, the availability of rapid re-housing is highly limited in most jurisdictions, placing many of those experiencing crisis homelessness at risk of becoming chronically homeless.
Byrne and his co-author propose leveraging an existing evidence-based intervention known as Critical Time Intervention to expand rapid re-housing efforts with funding from Medicaid. This intervention provides time-limited assistance and support (typically 9 months) and is designed to assist those with mental illness and complex social needs, such as homelessness.
Want to know more? Read the full proposal here.
We are horrified to learn of this weekend’s tragedy in Orlando in which more than 50 people have died and many more are injured. Our thoughts are with the many who have died, the injured, and their families. We are mindful of the needs of the many traumatized bystanders, police response team, first responders, and those who face the challenge of tending to the physical and emotional needs of all involved in the aftermath of this horror.
As fellow dean Sandro Galea of the BU School of Public Health notes today in his Boston Globe editorial, we have in this country a “deadly merger of access to weapons and senseless hate.” Now is the time to press our case, shared by the majority of the public at large, to call — at the very least — for elimination of the sale of semi-automatic weapons and any weapon that can cause mass destruction.
Even as we try to make sense of this senseless tragedy and seek to help the Orlando community cope with this disaster, let us work together on prevention. I hope you will join me in reflecting and acting on what we as social workers can do. Let us move forward with solidarity to take guns off of our streets and out of our communities, to reduce the chances that those who are radicalized to hate cannot easily engage in these horrific acts of violence.
— Dean Gail Steketee
BU School of Social Work recently added the Macro Social Work Practice Major to the Master of Social Work Online Program. The critical social issues at the forefront in this election year demonstrate the continuing need for skilled social workers trained to facilitate change at the larger community and organization systems level. These skills are vital to the creation of equitable public policy that promotes social justice as efforts made through macro social work strategies can enable dialogue, action, and steps to effect large-scale change.
The online MSW macro major encompasses a broad range of skill development, including nonprofit administration, community development, financial management, advocacy, and more, while the convenience and flexibility of the online format allows students continue to live and work in their communities while they study.
On Tuesday, May 17, the BU School of Social Work community came together to celebrate the 30-year career of Professor Maryann Amodeo, who retires this spring. Amodeo joined BUSSW in 1986.
Colleagues, friends, and family gathered together in the Trustee Ballroom at BU to honor Amodeo’s many accomplishments. The evening included performances by Gian Carlo Buscaglia and Los Altar Boyz, La Pinata Dance Group, and the Boston Children’s Chorus.
Professor Janice Furlong emceed the event.
Dean Gail Steketee kicked off the evening, describing Amodeo as having a
“special talent for educating social workers.”
“You are a consummate advocate for what is right and just,” Steketee told the nearly
Professor Michael Melendez of Salem State University School of Social Work echoed Steketee’s sentiments. He described Amodeo as “someone who practices equity.”
BU School of Social Work professor emerita Cassandra Clay said Amodeo is “always listening” and utilizing a “strengths-based perspective.”
Associate Dean for Research and Professor Lena Lundgren, who has worked with Amodeo in the Center for Addiction Research and Services, called attention to Amodeo’s impressive capacity for research. On a personal note, Lundgren added, “You are the fairy godmother. What is a fairy godmother? Someone who helps transform your life for the better.”
Additional speakers included BU School of Social Work lecturer Rick Cresta, Holly Lockwood (Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence), Joy Connell (MA Department of Mental Health), BU School of Medicine professors Daniel Alford and Jeffrey Samet, BU School of Social Work dean emeritus Hubie Jones (’57), and colleagues from Casa Esperanza. Each additional speaker described Amodeo’s dedication to addiction treatment and research, as well as her caring and funny disposition.
In her parting remarks, Amodeo conducted a psychosocial assessment on herself—sharing stories from her childhood and development in the field of social work. Although sad to leave her BUSSW community behind, Amodeo looks forward to the next adventures in her life.
“It’s been a privilege to work with three deans who have provided me with autonomy, support, and encouragement,” Amodeo said, “and who share a strong desire to see the school, and our faculty, succeed. Thank you.”
On Monday, May 23, the BU School of Social Work (BUSSW) Field Education Department hosted its annual field instructor appreciation breakfast to honor field advisors who provide incredible support to students. This year’s theme was, “What’s Policy Got to Do with It? Integrating Policy Practice into MSW Field Education.”
Assistant Dean for Field Education Trudy Zimmerman, who introduced the event, said the morning celebrated field instructors who “pushed students out of their comfort zones” and who made a student say, “she is the kind of social worker I want to be.”
The 2016 honorees include:
Paul Bender, Gosnold on Cape Cod
Debbie Jenkins, Connections of Cumberland County in North Carolina
Patricia Ciampi, Grafton Memorial High School
Lynne Markey, Whaling City Alternative High School
Robyn Isman, Italian Home for Children
Cheryl Azza, Boston University School of Law Immigrants’ Rights Clinic
Patty Contente, City of Somerville
Joe Connors, Roxbury Prep Charter School
Jackie Savage-Borne, Brigham & Women’s Hospital
Laila Swydan, VA Medical Center in Boston
Deandra Williams, Cambridge School Volunteers Program
This spring also marked the first year that BUSSW honored a field placement agency. The inaugural winner was Gosnold on Cape Cod.
Deb Berglin, Director of the BUSSW Off-Campus Program at Cape Cod, said, “Gosnold has been on the Cape since 1972, providing substance abuse and mental health treatment. They are one of the few agencies that offer our students on the Cape a continuum of care experience. I cannot think of an agency that more highly deserves this award.”
After the awards were handed out, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Mary Collins discussed the social welfare policy curriculum at BUSSW. Next, Kate Audette, Director of State Government Affairs at Boston Children’s Hospital, spoke about translating policy to practice in the field.
The morning concluded with roundtable discussions.
On May 13, 2016, faculty, staff, students, friends, and family gathered in the Boston University Fitness and Recreation Center for the School of Social Work Convocation. Five doctor of philosophy degrees, 21 dual dual-degree master’s, and 228 master’s degrees in social work were awarded.
“This year’s graduation included our largest graduating class ever,” Dean Gail Steketee said. ͞It was a true pleasure to shake the hand of each graduate who has worked so hard and made such sacrifices to complete our rigorous programs.
Professor Gary Eager received this year’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Aida Manduley (’16) of the Charles River Campus served as the student speaker for the class of 2016. Manduley’s message to friends and family centered on the importance of self-care. “At its core, militant self-care isn’t a race, but if it is a priority then we must act like it,” Manduley reminded the audience. ͞We [social workers] have inherent worth and dignity.”
Paolo del Vecchio, director of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, delivered the convocation address. As a self-identified mental health consumer, trauma survivor, and person in recovery from addictions, del Vecchio’s message to the graduating class was informed by personal experience. “My diagnosis did not have to become my destiny,” he said. “As social workers, when we help others, we also help ourselves.”
“It is unacceptable that we have politicians today more interested in building walls to separate us than bridges to bring us together,” del Vecchio continued. “As social workers, we will not go silent. We must turn our outrage into action. We will continue to speak up and speak out and start those brushfires of freedom for all.”
The celebration continued all weekend. On Sunday, May 15, 2016, the all-university Commencement commencement took place on Nickerson Field.
Congratulations, class of 2016!
“The great instrument of moral good is the imagination,” Eddie S. Glaude Jr. told audiences at the April 14 lecture and Q&A on his new book, Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul. The evening kicked off with a reception, followed by a lecture, question and answer session, and a book signing.
Glaude is the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University. The event was hosted by the Boston University School of Theology, School of Social Work, Department of Religion and the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground. Dr. Glaude’s book has been widely mentioned and reviewed in New York Magazine, TIME magazine, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, and NBC News.com. Los Angeles Times called it “one of the most imaginative, daring books of the 21st century.”
In the book, Glaude argues that there is a “value gap” in our society’s regard for black lives. “What is the ‘value gap’?” Glaude asked attendees. “It is the belief that white people are valued more than others.”
“Remember imagination is bound up with the idea of empathy and sympathy […] of putting oneself in the place of another and of many others,” Glaude said.
Glaude described America as “in the midst of ‘The Great Black Depression.’” For the first time in recorded American history, he noted, there are more poor black children than there are poor white children even though there are three times more white children than black children in the nation.
Democracy in Black demands a more imaginative and impassioned step forward.
To read more about the book, click here.
Most days it’s hard to catch Mirna Barba (’16). On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays she is completing her field placement with the Veteran Affairs Healthcare System in Boston. Other days, the second-year clinical practice major is on the third floor at 264 Bay State Road, working with the Center for Addiction Research and Services. Of course, there are always classes to juggle, and Barba, planning to graduate in May, is taking four this semester.
How does she balance it all? “I love Google Calendar,” Barba said. She admits it takes a detail-oriented person to juggle a second-year student’s schedule.
Before relocating to Boston from California in 2014, she served in the Air Force for eight years and later earned her degree at California State University-Fullerton, where she graduated summa cum laude with a major in psychology.
“I’ve always been interested in working with youth and unaccompanied minors,” Barba told Currents. She has worked with youth in a variety of settings, from working directly with adolescent girls as a counselor in Rosemary Children’s Services residential group home in Pasadena to serving as a wraparound facilitator in greater Los Angeles with OTTP (Occupational Therapy Training Program) and Crittenton Services for Children and Families.
Why Social Work? “I didn’t really know much about social work until I started working. What social workers do and how they approach issues of social and racial justice is really why I chose social work,” she said.
Barba told Currents she was drawn to Boston University by its emphasis on urban practice and first visited after she was accepted. During that summer 2014 visit, she met Professor Luz Lopez (now her advisor). “I also met some students who are actually now some of my really close friends,” Barba said.
Having spent time working alongside social workers in various nonprofits, Barba said she knew social work was the right field for her. She came into the program planning to focus on clinical practice.
Barba said Professor Lopez “has been a great influence.” Barba completed her first-year internship at Casa Esperanza, a bilingual behavioral health facility in Roxbury. There, among other things, Barba co-facilitated a bilingual Seeking Safety group, a trauma-focused group for women.
“The first class that I took [at BUSSW], I really felt like, yes, this is for me. It was human behavior with Ernest Gonzales,” Barba said. “Professor Gonzales gave me a platform to talk about my experience in the field and working in the [Los Angeles] community with youth.”
Fostering Inclusivity at BUSSW
Barba told Currents that her peers may not be aware she’s a veteran. “I think at least initially, I don’t fit their idea of what a veteran looks like,” she said. But Barba has big plans for the growing veteran population studying social work at Boston University—both on campus in Massachusetts and online.
“I’m trying to get something going now, a veterans’ subcommittee for Student Org, so that we can better look at how veterans’ needs are being met. Not only veterans’ needs,” Barba said, “but also military spouses’ needs.”
Before beginning her second-year field placement with the VA Boston, Barba had never worked with veterans. “I was excited that I was chosen to be a part of the VA,” she said.
In the Field
At the VA Boston Healthcare System, Barba interns with both the HIV and the oncology clinics. The experience is challenging but rewarding. “I’ve never worked with end-of-life issues before,” Barba said. “It’s very intimidating.” On her first day at the oncology clinic, Barba’s supervisor brought her to the infusion room and left her with a patient.
“I didn’t know what to say; I didn’t know what to talk about or how to talk about the issues that were relevant and important to him,” Barba said. But with her supervisor’s support, Barba has been able to jump right in. Barba’s work with the oncology clinic includes a mixture of therapy and case management.
With the HIV clinic, Barba works with veterans who have been diagnosed with HIV and AIDS. “Some of them come to talk about the stigma of HIV and AIDS,” Barba said. “Some are not ‘out’ to their families about their HIV status, or they’re working and they need their health benefits, so we talk about the ramifications of telling others.”
The Trauma Certificate Program was a big reason Barba chose BUSSW. Whether she ended up working with the veteran population or with youths, she knew the program would be important.
“I knew that I would need a background in trauma working with these communities,” Barba said. She told Currents she previously wrote home studies for unaccompanied minors in Los Angeles and realized the depth of their trauma. “I can’t even imagine going through what some of these youths have gone through just to get here,” she said. “There’s just so much trauma.”
As part of the Trauma Certificate Program, Barba attends monthly seminars, and her second-year placement is focused on trauma. Students pursuing the certificate learn to analyze conceptualizations of trauma, apply current principles of intervention and program planning, and consider the larger social, cultural, and political forces at work that shape both exposure to and recovery from traumatic experiences.
Building on a BUSSW Education
Barba said the skills she has learned through the master’s program at BUSSW have been important to her successful field experiences.
In her work with the VA Boston HIV clinic, Barba teaches mindfulness to her patients. It’s a technique she’s learning in a course with Professor Kathleen Flinton. “Everything that I learn here, I take back to my field placement,” Barba said.
Despite a passion for the Los Angeles area, Barba hopes to stay in Boston after graduating. She plans to apply for a full-time position at the Boston VA this spring.