HSHP team granted $850,000 by HHS
HSHP team granted $850,000 by HHSMarch 19, 2004Wendy S. Loughlinwsloughl@syr.edu
In a manifestation of the College of Human Services and Health Professions’ (HSHP) mission to create an environment in which interdisciplinary education and research can flourish, a team of HSHP researchers will receive a five-year, $852,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The grant, awarded by HHS’ Administration for Children and Families, is titled “Promoting Child Welfare: Training Professionals to Support Healthy Marriages, Relationships and Families.”
The grant will allow faculty to train graduate students and current child welfare professionals, with the goal of helping children. “We asked ourselves, ‘How can we support the conditions that will promote child well-being?'” says Keith Alford, associate professor of social work and principal investigator. “Children are among the most vulnerable populations in our society. As human service professionals, we are always looking for ways to improve their outlook.”
With a focus on issues including substance abuse, domestic violence, and teen pregnancy; and larger societal issues such as discrimination, prejudicial attitudes and disenfranchisement, the team will work with an interprofessional coalition of child welfare professionals to review current “best practices” in relationship and family intervention and draw on local professional knowledge to identify common barriers to healthy relationship formation. Team members will then identify and reaffirm competencies for professional work in this area.
Using this initial research and building on current courses in the college, the team will develop a curriculum module to train master’s-level students in healthy marriage, relationship and family formation in racially, ethnically, and economically diverse populations; and set up internships to field-test and refine the curriculum. Professionals from several local human service agencies will serve as project advisors, and the agencies will serve as field-testing sites. Beginning in the grant’s second year, 13 master’s-level students will be selected to receive training, with preference given to students who are currently working in the child welfare field or who commit to entering the field after graduation. Participating students, who will receive partial tuition support from the grant, will take a specialized course in healthy marriage, relationship and family formation, as well as an additional course from among those already offered by participating departments. Then, students will take part in yearlong internships or complete theses on pertinent topics. HSHP plans to continue the new curriculum beyond the grant period.
The team also plans to offer workshops to current child welfare professionals and encourage professionals to enroll in specialized courses. The team also plans to map existing community resources, identifying service and skill gaps, developing a support network for agency providers and distributing informational materials. “In this way,” says Alford, “we hope to increase client access to services.”
According to Alford, the interdisciplinary nature of the team greatly contributes to its strength. “We each bring expertise from our various disciplines to the table as we unite around the common theme of child welfare,” he says. “That we are all part of the same college is a big plus. Together, we are mindful of issues that might be overlooked in a single-discipline approach.” In addition to Alford, Smith, and Moreno, faculty members working on the project include: Peg Miller, Nancy Mudrick and Claire Rudolph from the School of Social Work;Mona Mittal and Jonathan Sandberg from the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy; and Alan Taylor from the Department of Child and Family Studies.