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Melinda Lewis
School of Social Welfare

KU School of Social Welfare hosts Grand Challenges for Social Work event series

Fri, 09/10/2021

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Social Welfare’s Center for Community Engagement and Collaboration (CCEC) will host a series of interactive panels highlighting current school research and community practice in areas related to the Grand Challenges for Social Work, an initiative within the social work profession to champion social progress around a series of grand challenges that the profession works to influence.

Grand Challenges for Social Work logo

The particular Grand Challenges highlighted in these events align with major scholarship initiatives within the social welfare school and critical concerns facing the larger society, including advancing long and productive lives, ensuring healthy development for youths and closing the health gap. These events will be held virtually to facilitate access for KU alumni and community stakeholders across the state. These events are free and open to the public, and participants will be able to receive 1.5 to 2 hours of CEUs for attending each event. 

“As social workers, we are committed to advancing justice and building capacity to meet the grand challenges our society faces. Within the school, scholars, students and our community partners are pursuing scholarship and innovating practice to address these critical issues, in this especially crucial moment. These events give us opportunities to consider together — as scholars, practitioners and community stakeholders — where we are today and what we must bring to the future,” said Melinda Lewis, associate director of CCEC.

The first event examines new research from the school's Center for Research on Aging and Disability Options (CRADO). CRADO scholars will share results from their study of the effects of COVID-19 on the long-term care workforce, and panelists will discuss the current state and future needs of these essential providers. The event will take place noon-1:30 p.m. Oct. 7. Carrie Wendel-Hummel, of CRADO, will open the conversation with response and discussion by Mickey Dick, Visiting Nurses Association, and Yvonne Love, Claridge Court, a Lifespace community. Participants who attend this session will walk away with a better understanding of the effects of the pandemic on the variety of long-term care options that seek to meet the needs of older adults and people with disabilities, as well as the policy changes and professional investments required for the future. Visit the event registration page to reserve a virtual seat.

The second event highlights the imperative of centering anti-racist approaches in child welfare policy and practice. From noon to 2 p.m. March 3, 2022, KU research faculty member Kaela Byers and several of the community partners whose work is integral to the social welfare school's efforts with Kansas Strong for Children and Families and other child welfare scholarship will discuss strategies to center the voices of youths and families in child welfare research and policy. To ensure that participants can engage in meaningful conversation about the urgency of a commitment to racial justice in child welfare, the panel will be followed by facilitated breakout sessions. Participants who attend this session will learn more about how disaggregated data and explicitly antiracist inquiries can drive reforms to child welfare systems that meet this Grand Challenge. Visit the event registration page to reserve a virtual seat.

The third and final event in this series, "Grand Challenges for Social Work: Close the Health Gap," is the culmination of this academic year’s cohort of the school's Integrated Health Scholars program. On April 26, 2022, from noon to 2 p.m., a panel of speakers, including Teri Kennedy, KU professor of nursing; Michelle Levy, School of Social Welfare; and an alumnus of the Integrated Health Scholars program will discuss how interprofessional practice can expand access and quality in integrated health care and contribute to closing the health gap. Participants will discuss what the profession has learned about the “health gap” over the past two years, the policies and practices that have widened it, and the interventions that help to close it. Visit the event registration page to reserve a virtual seat.

Learn more about the Grand Challenges for Social Work national initiative on the Grand Challenges website.



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