KU School of Social Welfare hosts Grand Challenges for Social Work Event Series

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. The Grand Challenges for Social Work is an initiative within the social work profession to champion social progress around a series of grand challenges that the profession works to impact. The particular Grand Challenges highlighted in these events align with major scholarship initiatives within the School of Social Welfare and critical concerns facing the larger society: Advance long and productive lives, Ensure healthy development for youth, and Close the health gap. These events will be held virtually to facilitate access for KU alumni and community stakeholders across the state. Participants will be able to receive 1.5 to 2 hours CEUs for attending each event. These events are free and open to the public.

“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, Center for Community Engagement and Collaboration.

The first event examines new research from the School of Social Welfare’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 is October 7, 2021 from noon to 1:30 p.m (on Zoom). Dr. Carrie Wendel-Hummell, 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 webpage to reserve your virtual seat.

The second event highlights the imperative of centering anti-racist approaches in child welfare policy and practice. On March 3, 2022 from noon to 2:00 p.m., Drs. Kaela Byers and Becci Akin, along with partners whose work is integral to the KU School of Social Welfare’s efforts with Kansas Strong for Children and Families and other child welfare scholarship, will discuss strategies to center the voices of youth 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 anti-racist inquiries can drive reforms to child welfare systems that meet this Grand Challenge. Visit the event registration webpage to reserve your 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 KU School of Social Welfare’s Integrated Health Scholars program. On April 26, 2022 from noon to 2:00 p.m., a panel of speakers, including Teri Kennedy, University of Kansas, School of Nursing; Michelle Levy, University of Kansas, 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 webpage to reserve your virtual seat.