School of Social Work

No. 28 M.S.W. Program in the U.S.

As the Council on Social Work Education’s 68th Annual Program Meeting opens, the VCU School of Social Work recognizes our faculty and students whose work has been accepted for the conference, or who are participating in signature conference events at the Hilton Anaheim.

If you’re attending, please visit us in Booth #704, where you can meet:

  • Interim Dean Rebecca Gomez, Ph.D.
  • Ph.D. Program Director Denise Burnette, Ph.D.
    • GADE president, 2022-24
    • VCU Wurtzel Endowed Faculty Chair in Social Work
    • Fulbright Specialist, 2021-25
  • Ph.D. student Muna Saleh, M.S.W.
    • Robert Woods Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar, cohort six
    • CSWE-SSWR-GADE Doctoral Fellow, 2022-23
    • Co-founder, Minnesota community assistance agency for refugees
  • Ph.D. candidate/student presenters Jennifer Murphy, M.S.W., and Camie Tomlinson, M.S.W.
  • B.S.W. student Oscar Kemp
    • First undergraduate student representative on CSWE’s Board of Directors, 2022-23
    • Current president of Association of Black Social Workers at VCU
    • Student fellow, VCU Radical Alliance for Anti-Racism, Change and Equity (RAACE)

Friday, Nov. 11

GADE-CSWE Doctoral Student Connection Breakfast

Denise Burnette, Ph.D., doctoral program director, VCU School of Social Work, and GADE president; Darla Coffey, Ph.D., CSWE president and CEO. 

  • 7:45-9:45 a.m. PT, Pacific Ballroom A

The role of family belongingness and religiosity on mental health for Black LGBTQ+ youth

Alum Keith Watts (Ph.D.,’21/SW), University of Kentucky; *Alex Wagaman, Ph.D., associate professor, VCU School of Social Work; Shelley Craig, Ph.D., University of Toronto; Vivian Leung, M.A., University of Toronto

  • 7:45-8:45 a.m. PT, California Ballroom (Poster 8). *Not attending

Presentation overview

This presentation shares findings of a study that investigated the relationship between family religiosity and family belongingness among a sample of Black LGBTQIA+ youth living in the United States and Canada. Implications for social work education and practice are provided and discussed. Proposal text: Background and Purpose:
Research has established that a sense of belongingness to families of origin is associated with decreased psychological distress (Slaten & Baskin, 2014), and healthy psychological adjustment for LGBTQIA+ youth (Sheets & Mohr, 2009; Shilo & Savaya, 2011).

Having a supportive family is important for the mental health of LGBTQIA+ youth (Mustanski et al., 2011). Black LGBTQIA+ youth report feeling rejected and isolated from their families due to their sexual minority identities (Corsbie-Massay, 2017; Kuper et al., 2014), and this distress has been associated with the religiosity of Black communities (Negy & Eisenman, 2005; Means, 2017). However, LGBQ people often report that religion is an important source of resiliency (Schmitz & Woodell, 2018) and religion has been cited as playing both a protective and significant role in the life experiences of Black individuals (Means, 2017). This study examined the effect of family religiosity on the relationships between family belongingness and depression and mental health in a sample of Black LGBTQIA+ youth.

The utilization needs of school mental health services among adolescents

Jennifer Murphy, M.S.W., Ph.D. candidate, VCU School of Social Work

  • 10:45-11:45 a.m. PT, California Ballroom (Poster 19)

Presentation overview

Adolescent mental health and its impact on academic success and well-being is a critical area of focus for social work researchers and practitioners, particularly as COVID-19 has exacerbated the mental health needs among middle and high schoolers. This presentation examines profiles of adolescents’ needs for using school mental health services.

Learning objectives

  1. Identify patterns of school mental health service needs.
  2. Examine sociodemographic characteristics that are related to patterns of need.
  3. Explain the importance of social work researchers, educators and practitioners in advocating for policies and interventions that support the mental health needs of adolescents.

Addressing Latinx youth psychological wellbeing through mental health first aid training in Catholic schools session: Community engagement and training

Ramon Coronado, Ph.D., Our Lady of the Lake University; April C. Viverette, Ph.D., OLLU & community-embedded faculty, VCU School of Social Work; Marissa Henderson, M.S., University Health (San Antonio, TX); Rebecca Gomez, Ph.D., interim dean, VCU School of Social Work; Mo Cuevas, Ph.D, OLLU; Deborah Healy, Psy.D., OLLU; Kristin O’Donnell, Ph.D., OLLU; Lupita M. Goller, M.S.W., OLLU.

  • 11:15-11:45 a.m. PT, Catalina 4

Presentation overview

Youth mental health presents social justice issues for social work researchers, educators and practitioners, and serve as a Grand Challenge of Social Work. This presentation will examine results of an evaluation of Mental Health First Aid training as part of a university-community partnership and provide implications for education, research, and practice.

Learning objectives

  1. Describe the effectiveness of mental health first aid training amongst faith-based school staff.
  2. Examine social work education’s role in a Hispanic Serving Institution-Community Partnership.
  3. Explain how this university-community partnership can affect mental health care access, utilization and stigma amongst Latinx youth and adults.

Building the dream space collective: If we dream it….we can unbecome

Alexis Jemal, Ph.D., Hunter College; Laura Voith, Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University; Mer Francis, Ph.D., assistant professor, VCU School of Social Work; Hyunjune Lee, M.S.W., Case Western; Tyrone Hamler, Ph.D., Denver University; Amy Korsch-Williams, M.S.W., Case Western

  • 1:15-2:15 p.m. PT, Avalon A (CE credits available)

Presentation overview

The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. Thus, radical imagination is needed to devise tools that can disrupt oppression and build liberatory spaces. This presentation provides one collective’s narrative to develop antiracist, trauma-informed spaces for social work education, research and practice. 

Learning objectives

  1. Describe the Trauma-Informed, Socially-Just Research framework and then discuss the possibilities of integrating the framework into their work.  
  2. Engage with our narrative to distill practices that could be useful in their institutional and individual level work of “un-becoming” and envisioning healing centered (Ginwright, 2018) social work research, education and practice in their respective communities or institutions. 
  3. Use radical imagination to identify approaches and action steps to building liberatory / anti-oppressive spaces and communities of practice that are supportive of the journey toward reclaiming humanity.

Saturday, Nov. 12

Post-migration stressors, parent health, and family functioning among camp refugees

Miriam Kuttikat, Ph.D., associate professor, VCU School of Social Work; Muna Saleh, M.S.W., Ph.D. student, VCU School of Social Work; David Chan, Ph.D., associate professor, VCU Department of Applied Mathematics; Paola Roldán, M.A., Ph.D. student, VCU School of Social Work; Indranil Sahoo, Ph.D., assistant professor, VCU Department of Statistical Sciences and Operations Research; Jennifer Murphy, M.S.W., Ph.D. candidate, VCU School of Social Work.

  • 11:15-11:45 a.m. PT, Sunset

Presentation overview

Millions of refugees are faced with protracted displacement, most often in under-resourced camps located in Lower and Middle Income Countries (LMICs). Despite the pervasiveness of traumatic stressors associated with life in displacement, the extent to which transmigration stress impacts mental and physical health for this population is poorly understood. This presentation examines the relationships among resource utilization, health problems and family functioning among Sri Lankan camp refugees

Learning objectives

  1. Describe the types of stressors experienced by Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, as well as their level of adjustment and level of family functioning.
  2. Provide initial tests of association between trans-migration stressors experienced by parents, mental well-being, and family functioning.
  3. Examine the extent refugees are using formal and informal resources, their level of adjustment and family functioning.

Exploring social policy’s role in the overrepresentation of Black families in child welfare

Camie A. Tomlinson, M.S.W., Ph.D. candidate, VCU School of Social Work; Shelby E. McDonald, Ph.D., faculty affiliate, VCU Clark Hill Institute; Jamie Cage, Ph.D., assistant professor, VCU School of Social Work

  • Noon-1 p.m. PT, California Ballroom (Poster 6)

Presentation overview

This poster presents a timeline juxtaposing the development of the U.S. child welfare system and social welfare and child welfare policies to help explain the overrepresentation of Black families in the child welfare system.  Implications for the promotion of social and economic justice within child welfare will be provided. 

Learning objectives

  1. Understand the sociocultural and historical context of Black families’ exclusion from, followed by over-inclusion in, the child welfare system. 
  2. Recognize the role of social welfare and child welfare policies in contributing to overrepresentation of Black families in the child welfare system. 
  3. Understand the importance of incorporating material on the historical, sociocultural context of child welfare in social work education to prepare students to engage in anti-racist practice that advances social and economic justice and protects the rights of Black families involved in the child welfare system. 

Virginia school social workers’ roles, responsibilities, and perceptions of practice efficacy

Annette Clayton, Ph.D, Virginia Wesleyan University; Jennifer Murphy, M.S.W., Ph.D. candidate, VCU School of Social Work 

  • 2:30-3:30 p.m. PT, California Ballroom (Poster 18)

Presentation overview

School social worker roles and responsibilities oftentimes vary and are dependent upon a number of factors including federal and state mandates and allocation of division resources. This presentation examines variation among Virginia school social workers’ roles, responsibilities and perceptions of evidence-informed practice efficacy. 

Learning objectives

  1. Describe the current landscape of school social workers across Virginia.
  2. Examine school-level factors that impact roles, responsibilities and perceptions of practice efficacy.
  3. Explain the gap in evidence-informed knowledge and skill in order to advocate for targeted state-wide training opportunities to address school social workers’ professional development needs.

Protecting LGBTQ+ human rights: Developing an international student training network (ISTN) of Emerging Scholars

Shelley Craig, Ph.D., University of Toronto; Andrew Deaton, Ph.D., University of Regina; Ignacio Verduzco, Ph.D., Universidad Pedagógica Nacional; Daragh McDermott, Ph.D., Nottingham Trent University; Lauren McInroy, Ph.D., Ohio State University; Rachael Pascoe, M.S.W., University of Toronto; *Alex Wagaman, Ph.D., associate professor, VCU School of Social Work; alum Keith Watts (Ph.D.’21/SW), University of Kentucky

  • 4:15-4:45 p.m. ET, Oceanside. *Not attending

Presentation overview

A two-year extracurricular International Student Training Network (ISTN) has been launched for graduate social work students who identify as and conduct research with sexual and gender minority youth. Through multi-method blended learning and engaging curricula, the inaugural ISTN cohort has received specialized research training and demonstrated increased skills and competence. Proposal text: Background: Specialized research training in a substantive area of focus is a key component of graduate – primarily doctoral – social work education. However, students may study at institutions where training and mentoring in their substantive area is not available or may be isolated without a community of scholarship.

Students from non-dominant groups, such as ethnic, gender, and sexual minorities may face additional institutional barriers to doctoral social work education that an extracurricular training program could help mitigate (Weng & Gray, 2017). Further, fostering interaction with established scholars across boundaries may facilitate dissertation completion (Liechty et al., 2009) and research productivity (Cunningham-Williams et al., 2018) among Ph.D. students in social work. Despite these possibilities, no international training programs designed to mentor and train sexual and gender minority (SGM) graduate students exists. Through the social work-led International Partnership for Queer Youth Resilience (INQYR), a virtual extracurricular program, the International Student Training Network (ISTN) – has been designed and launched with a focus on SGM scholarship to support global human rights.

Accepted, not presenting

Mental health, behavioral support needs, and outcomes for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities session

Sarah Lineberry, LCSW, Ph.D. candidate, VCU School of Social Work; Matthew Bogenschutz, Ph.D., associate professor, VCU School of Social Work, and Partnership for People with Disabilities (PPD); Michael Broda, Ph.D., associate professor, VCU, and VA-LEND; Parthenia Dinora, Ph.D., executive director, PPD; Seb Prohn, Ph.D., assistant director, PPD; Angela West, M.S., multicultural specialist, PPD. 

Categories Education, Faculty and staff, Research, Students
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