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School of Social Welfare Initiative Bring Heightened Visibility
(November 7, 2003)

The University at Albany’s School of Social Welfare continues to grow in stature with three new initiatives in recent months. The initiatives focus on substance abuse and child welfare; meeting the needs of the aging; and a national conference on community-building in child welfare.

With a grant of more than $2 million from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the school is establishing a Center on Child Welfare, Drug Abuse, and Intergenerational Risk. The center is embarking on a major new research program involving substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, and the child welfare families.

“This exciting five-year grant initiates a program of important research on child welfare, drug abuse, and HIV/AIDS issues. It represents partnerships among research, practitioner and policy communities, and has the potential to lead to multiple large and groundbreaking studies in the future,” said KATHARINE BRIAR-LAWSON, dean of the School of Social Welfare. “Research programs at the School of Social Welfare are entering a new era with this award.”

With Social Welfare Professor PHILIP MCCALLION at the helm, the new center is co-directed by professors CAROLYN SMITH, BARRY LONECK, and JAMES JACCARD.

THE CENTER IS:

• Building a research infrastructure at the school to support faculty in designing state-of-the-art research on substance use in high-risk families.

• Developing collaborative partnerships with state agency leaders and professionals from child welfare, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS services to improve the design of services that address substance abuse and other problems among high-risk parents.

In a second initiative, the school has received a $328,189 grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation to evaluate the implementation of a new approach, the Elder Network of the Capital Region (ENCR), for communities to support their aging citizens by improving the integration of medical and support services, and by offering new opportunities for fulfilling lives in old age.

“With support needs for aging adults growing daily, this grant will go far to help create a regional infrastructure to help maintain the independence, dignity, and self-reliance of our older citizens,” Briar-Lawson said. ENCR is an outgrowth of the Center for Excellence in Aging Services at the University at Albany and the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA), and their planning efforts were previously funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation. McCallion, Center for Excellence director, said, “The consortium of state agencies, local government, health networks, provider agencies, faith communities, advocacy groups, and UAlbany, with the active participation of older persons themselves, has created an exciting plan for the future of the Capital Region. We are all committed to making it a reality and to identifying ways in which our efforts may be replicated throughout the state.” The appointments of VICKY RIZZO, Ph.D., as ENCR executive director and HARRY ROSENFELD as ENCR board chair were also announced.

The Neighborhood Health Advocate Program (NHAP) in Albany’s West Hill neighborhood is one of several initiatives under the ENCR umbrella. Sponsored by the Albany Guardian Society and Community Foundation for the Capital Region, NHAP is designed to empower the elderly and their caregivers in the West Hill community. Through the program, West Hill seniors will access needed health and social services in order to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations.

The third recent initiative was the school’s first national symposium, held in September, on Building Communities for 21st Century Child Welfare. This event, co-sponsored by the Child Welfare League of America and the Boston Children’s Institute of The Home for Little Wanderers, brought together more than 300 practitioners, community leaders, policy makers, educators, fundraisers, and foundation representatives from the United States and Canada to feature innovative programs in community building to improve the lives of disadvantaged children and families.

Highlights of the conference included workshops on community collaboration, leadership development, and techniques for creating successful public/private partnerships. Briar-Lawson, colleagues from the United Way of Northeastern New York, and other community organizations presented Community Building and Child Welfare: The Albany Story, which focused on innovative programs implemented in the schools, neighborhoods, and rural areas.

The final session focused on the role of place-based philanthropy and services (an effective approach to philanthropic giving which targets and saturates a disadvantaged neighborhood to positively impact the lives of children and families in the neighborhood). It featured IRA BARBELL of the Annie E. Casey Foundation; RUTH FLEISCHMAN of the Marie C. and Joseph C. Wilson Foundation; ROGER GARDNER of the Daisy Marquis Foundation; and JUDY LYONS of the Community Foundation of the Capital Region.

 

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