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News Items – June 24, 2014

Rick_ScottFla. governor signs bill to overhaul child welfare
Miami Herald
Gov. Rick Scott signed a sweeping bill Monday aimed at overhauling the child-welfare system after hundreds of child abuse-related deaths in the past five years. The new law calls for a fundamental shift in the way the Department of Children and Families investigates and responds to cases. It clearly states that protecting a child from abuse is paramount and more important than keeping a family together. Furthermore, the new bill establishes a preference for hiring social workers as child protective investigators; creates a tuition exemption and loan forgiveness program to attract social workers to work in child welfare; and establishes the Florida Institute for Child Welfare comprised of the state’s public and private university schools of social work to advise the state on child welfare policy, social work education, and child welfare worker training.

Carla Damron is the Executive Director of NASW-SC:
DSS needs trained workers
The State (Columbia, SC)
The S.C. Department of Social Services’ problems — including the deaths of several children — culminate from poor decisions made by management. When faced with budget cuts, the agency opted to hire less credentialed personnel, shifting away from trained social workers in favor of generic “case workers.” While this saved money (not as much as you would think — social worker salaries are not high), it led to a paraprofessional work force.

Marylou Sudders is a member:
State filings for custody of children soaring
The Boston Globe
Many describe the jump in custody petitions as an overreaction to intense public scrutiny that will needlessly send more children into foster care. “It’s symptomatic of an agency that is continuing to struggle,” Marylou Sudders, associate professor at Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, said Thursday. “You have line workers who, if there is any question, are going to default to the side of filing [for custody]. I think the entire agency is risk-averse.” The change in practice has had direct consequences.

Consortium addresses behavioral health services and coverage for farmworkers
Merced Sun-Star
Behavioral health services will see some expansion in Merced and Stanislaus counties, according to an announcement made Thursday by Golden Valley Health Centers officials at the Merced County Health Care Consortium meeting. Rosalba Serrano, a licensed clinical social worker at Golden Valley Health Centers, said the health center system hired four behavioral clinicians this week, adding to its team of 16. GVHC’s behavioral team in Merced and Stanislaus also includes three psychiatrists, one addiction specialist, two case managers and three outreach workers.

Jessica Ward is a member:
Newtown hopes mental health task force incites change
Stamford Advocate
Jessica Ward, a licensed clinical social worker with a private practice in Newtown and a clinical supervisor at Newtown Youth and Family Services, said that she welcomes the legislative pressure to increase mental health servicesm, but “with any legislation and recommendations come a need for funding, correct?”

Average student debt between UT colleges varies by thousands
The Daily Texan
Another possible factor is that some colleges may attract more low-income students than other colleges do, Tom Melecki said. “My wife [who works in the School of Social Work] tells me that [some of] the students she works with … went into social work because, when they were young people, they and their families benefitted from the help of social workers,” Melecki said. The School of Social Work was the only undergraduate college decreasing in average student debt from May 2009 to May 2014, falling from $27,610 to $23,196. The average student debt among May 2014 University undergraduates was $25,216.

Tricia Lizama is a member:
Where imagination sprouts: teachers participate in the Third Annual Ku ‘Aina Pa three-day summer intensive
North Hawaii News
“I enjoyed the hands-on learning and the opportunities to talk about theory and have it applied,” commented Tricia Lizama, a professor of social work at University of Guam. “My favorite part was meeting everyone, learning and hearing what other people are doing, and how they can adapt some of these activities.”

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