Skip to Main Content Skip to Main Navigation

Give to Lehman

Lehman College

HRSA Training Grant Program for MSW Students 2014-2017

Project Abstract

The purpose of this project is to increase the number and improve the educational preparation of a diverse group of MSW social workers at Lehman College providing effective prevention, clinical intervention and treatment for children, adolescents, and transitional-age youth and their families (herein referred to as "target population") in medically underserved and economically impoverished areas of Bronx, New York and surrounding communities. This young population is at particular risk for mental illness, substance abuse, suicide, and violent behavior and is among the least likely to receive continuous help. Lehman College is a federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution located in the Bronx. This project will be innovative with the creation of several different educational program components, which will focus on culturally and linguistically informed prevention and clinical interventions in integrated primary care settings with the target population, consonant with the population of this medically underserved area. These include a new specialized course for trainees emphasizing culturally informed behavioral health services, a workshop series devoted to preparing trainees to work with Spanish and other non-English speaking clients, a Special Topics seminar series for interprofessional staff at collaborating agencies, external education and training for all trainees, creation of a website for national dissemination of relevant materials, and a culminating all-day conference for the professional and educational communities, including all trainees.

Enhanced Curriculum

The enhanced curriculum consists of two components:

  1. A new course, Culturally-Informed Behavioral Health Services for At-Risk Children, Adolescents, and Transitional-Age Youth and their Families, has been created to prepare grantees for work with the target population. This 3-credit, 3-hour course is required for all grant students. In addition to lectures and classroom activities, an interdisciplinary component has been built in, with representatives from three different professions meeting with the class as guest lecturers. These include the following disciplines: counseling, psychology, law, criminal justice, education, and medicine.

    The course focuses on effective prevention, clinical intervention and treatment for children adolescents, and transitional-age youth and their families, at risk for mental illness, substance abuse, suicide, and violent behavior in an urban environment. Course content, including evidence-based practices for child and adolescent treatment is emphasized.

    HRSA elective course description

    Work with families/caretakers and culturally competent practice from a strengths based systems perspective is emphasized. Risk, resiliency and facilitating coping skills are integrated into assessment and treatment interventions. Developmental considerations, traumatic events and socio-environmental factors encountered by children and youth in an urban environment that impact their well-being are addressed.

  2. A second component of the enhanced curriculum includes two non-credit Language Workshops meeting six times during the academic year for one hour. Students attend workshops based on their ability to provide services in the Spanish language.

    Developing Spanish Language Skills for Professional Social Work Practice with At-Risk Children, Adolescents, and Transitional-Age Youth and their Families.

    These workshops seek to enhance professional Spanish-language oral communication skills of students who already possess functional fluency in spoken Spanish. The focus is on strengthening communications skills when providing direct services to clients in the areas of prevention and treatment of children, adolescents, and transitional-age youths. Course content covers the social work process, mainly as it relates to mental health issues with the target population and their families. Likewise, common patterns of professional communications with targeted clients in service contexts are reinforced through short role-plays that use key related professional and situational vocabulary the students have learned and practiced. All Spanish-language instruction is framed by an explicit awareness of and sensitivity towards the diversity of language use among Spanish speakers. Taken as a whole, the workshops seek to enhance the confidence and sense of achievement of student participants in their skills, thereby supporting the effectiveness of their services to clients.

    When the Social Worker Does Not Speak the Language of the Client: Overcoming Communication Barriers in Professional Social Work Practice with At-Risk Children, Adolescents, and Transitional-Age Youth and their Families

    As social workers working in such a culturally diverse city as New York it is not uncommon for practitioners to encounter clients where communication is difficult due to language and cultural differences. Many agencies are limited in the number of bilingual/bicultural staff available. In some instances even clients and workers from the same ethnic background may struggle due to dialects and the fluency of language acquisition. As a result, it is becoming more and more crucial for social workers to develop an understanding and to become familiarized with techniques and in some cases even basic phrases to facilitate more effective communication with clients. This series of workshops will focus on assisting students with the skills and knowledge base needed to communicate as effectively as possible when placed in situations where the social work intern and client do not speak the same language and/or share different cultural belief systems. Emphasis will be placed on the beginning stages of the social work process, developing sensitivity to the role of language and culture in clients' help seeking behaviors and learning some basic phrases to assist the social work intern communicate and understand client needs more effectively. We will also discuss the use and role of interpreters (e.g. children, adolescents, family members and professionals) and how to engage them as part of the helping process.

Attendance and Participation in Professional Conferences

An additional component of the curriculum consists of student exposure to professional conferences outside the College. All grantees have the experience of attending at least one professional conference during their last year in the M.S.W. program; many have presented papers at professional conferences.

Social Work Student Advocacy Research Conference

  • Yiseily Almonte
  • Daniela Belli
  • Judyth Fernandez
  • Christian Olusoji

New York State Social Work Education Association Annual Conference

  • Miguel Rodriguez
  • Amanda Vilaseca
  • Ada Moritz

American Men's Studies Association Conference

  • Dwayne Brown
  • Leon Goldson

New York Academy of Medicine Social Work Night

  • Amanda Vilaseca

Latinos Social Work Organization Conference Metro Counseling

  • Kelvin Montero
  • Juana Peguero
  • Jose Rubio
  • Miguel Rodriguez

Workshop Series for Field Instructors and Agency Staff

In addition to preparing grantees for work with the target population, our efforts extended to addressing these issues with the Fieldwork Instructors and Educational Coordinators in internship agencies where grantees were placed. Fieldwork Instructors were also given Continuing Education Hours for qualified workshops. The following wide range of issues were addressed in workshops with Fieldwork Instructors:

Academic Year 2015-2016

  • Brenda William-Gray, D.S.W. - "Traumatized Youth and Protective Factors that Promote Resiliency" - June 15, 2016
  • Carl Mazza, DSW - "Children of Incarcerated Parents: Living in a Strange World" - March 1, 2016
  • Evan Senreich, Ph.D. - "The Power of a Gestalt Therapy Approach to Social Work Practice with Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults" - January 28, 2016
  • Mohan Vinjamuri, Ph.D. - "Social Work Practice with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Questioning Adolescents and Emerging Adult: Being in the Crossroads" - December 8, 2015
  • Jessica Kahn, Ph.D. - "Professional Writing Skills" - November 19, 2015
  • Graciela Castex, Ed,D. - "Enhancement of Professional Spanish-Language Skills for Licensed Social Workers" - October 6, 2015
Academic Year 2014-2015

  • Jermaine J. Monk, MSW - "'My Brother's Keeper:' Contemporary Challenges for Black and Latino Males in 21st Century" - June 2, 2015
  • Mohan Vinjamuri, Ph.D. - "Being in the Crossroads: Social Work Practice with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Questioning Adolescents and Emerging Adults" - April 28, 2015
  • Brenda William-Gray, D.S.W. – "Traumatized Youth and Protective Factors that Promote Resiliency" - March 31, 2015
  • Gerry Costa, Ph.D. & Claudia Montoya, Esq. - "Culturally- Informed Behavioral Health Services for At-Risk Children and Transitional-Age Youth: Collaboration & Best Practices" - March 5, 2015

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under G02HP27957, Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training for Professionals and Paraprofessionals. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.