BPD Update Online, Spring 2004
Collaboration Creates Exciting Changes and Opportunities for Social Work
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Report from the Coordinating Center at
The New York academy of Medicine

The National Leadership Coalition

The National leadership Coalition (NLC) has been formed to increase the opportunity for older adults to stay in charge of their own lives by producing a competently trained social work labor force. The NLC formed as a result of the beginning success of the Practicum Partnership Program (PPP); the PPP is one component of the Geriatric Social Work Initiative (GSWI) supported by The John A. Hartford Foundation. Coalition members represent major leadership organizations in practice and education; these include NASW, CSWE, NADD, BPD, SSWR, IASWR, ANSWER, the VA and The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM). The strategic approach of this volunteer group is to develop and support a national leadership coalition committed to demonstrating the value and effectiveness of social workers caring for older adults. Work of the NLC is coordinated by Ms. Patricia J. Volland.

This national initiative is intended to develop new and significant resources that will support training, the development of practicum partnerships (see description below) and ultimately the recognition of the value of social work services for older adults with direct reimbursement for services. To this end we have developed a close working relationship with staff in the Department of Health and Human Services.

At an initial meeting of the NLC with staff representing several divisions in the Department of Health and Human Services it became clear that identifying avenues for funding alone will not be successful without a

(1) well developed statement regarding need,
(2) summary of the effectiveness data,
(3) well organized coalition within social work, and
(4) an organized coalition with other geriatric allied health professions.

Initially the NLC established 4 objectives. After consulting widely with colleagues and potential partners in both the public and private sectors, the NLC has identified key areas of focus that are needed to achieve the stated goal. These expanded areas of focus include: Work Force; Image; Policy; Practice; Research and Education and Training

Credit goes to partners in the NLC - NASW and IASWR - for securing language in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Appropriations Bill to direct the agency to study and quantify the current and future supply of social workers serving the elderly - across every aspect of the long-term care continuum. This mandate from Congress is an important opportunity to call attention to the shortage of qualified social workers to work with older adults and to increase awareness of the value of social work services.

We need your help now! We need examples of best practices and best training models along the broad array of services. Collection of these examples will provide a baseline of knowledge for HHS in initiating their study. Please provide organization names and contact information directly to Patricia J. Volland at pvolland@nyam.org. Once organizations have been identified we will contact them for additional characteristics of the work and will classify this material for HHS. Since we are under a very tight time frame we appreciate your immediate response.

Momentum for the development of this national coalition came from the commitment of deans of schools of social work involved in the Practicum Partnership Program component of GSWI funded by The John A. Harford Foundation. As leaders in the field of social work, these deans organized a group within NADD to partner with the Coordinating Center at NYAM to develop long term support for these partnership programs and the students who will be trained in them.

The Practicum Partnership Program

The Practicum Partnership Program (PPP) is an important component of the GSWI initiated and funded by the John A Hartford Foundation. The PPP is managed by staff at The New York Academy of Medicine. The PPP is a national initiative that requires social work education programs to form partnerships with community-based agencies that serve older adults. This arrangement provides high quality, aging-rich practicum experiences for graduate social work students. The Coordinating Center provides leadership to the six consortia members of the program and is leading a long term replication and disseminating strategy that will result in similar programs being implemented in graduate programs across the country.

The mission of the PPP is to increase the number of students trained to work with older adults by increasing the number of aging rich field placements. To fulfill this mission, the Coordinating Center pursues six core strategies:

. Design and test new social work educational models and evaluate effectiveness of the models

. Conduct studies that focus attention on health and social service needs of vulnerable populations

. Build coalitions and leadership to sustain and replicate effective educational models

. Support development of university-community partnerships

. Provide leadership in developing a competent social work workforce

. Provide technical assistance and consultation to universities and community agencies seeking to form productive partnerships

If we are to meet the societal challenge of the 21st Century - the projected explosion of the older adult population - much more is required of schools of social work and much more is required of federal, state and municipal governments. Schools of social work and departments of social work need to:

. Adapt to and capitalize on the opportunities the changing demographics present for the profession.

. Recruit young people to social work and social work students to the field of aging. This requires financial support and improving the public image of social work

. Build on the Hartford Foundation investment by aggressively pursing public and private support to educate social workers to work with older adults

Please join us in this important endeavor!

IASWR's work in the field of aging is discussed in an article on the next page...

Spiral, Horizontal Line Spinning

BPD Update Online, Volume 26, No. 2, Spring 2004

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