Month: April 2009

Medicare Part D Counseling Event a Huge Success

One-on-one personalized counseling was offered at the UConn School of Social Work for Medicare beneficiaries helping them to evaluate their Part D prescription drug plan options for 2009.

The event was co-sponsored by the UConn School of Social Work, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and CHOICES (Connecticut’s Program for Health Insurance Assistance, Outreach, Information and Referral, Counseling, Eligibility Screening).

Medicare encouraged beneficiaries, their caregivers and family members to review 2009 Medicare prescription drug plans as the Annual Open Enrollment period approached.

“Some beneficiaries may see significant premium increases or changes, such as reduced coverage in the gap, if they stay in the same prescription drug plan in 2009. This year it is especially important, now and throughout the upcoming open enrollment period, for beneficiaries to use our online tools to compare their current drug and health plan coverage to the options available for 2009 and take action to choose a plan that best meets their needs”, said CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems.

CHOICES counselors and students from the School of School of Social Work and Pharmacy were available to assist Medicare beneficiaries to compare prescription drug coverage plans and to view premiums, formularies and availability of coverage in the gap.

“The event was a rare opportunity for seniors to obtain in-person assistance”, said Peter Tyczkowski, coordinator of educational outreach for the UConn School of Pharmacy. “It is also a good opportunity for students from our social work and pharmacy programs to interact with them.”

Student pharmacists also assisted attendees in preparing a File of Life, a mini-medical history. Flu shots were administered by VNA Healthcare of Greater Hartford. The  event was held in the Zachs Community Room at the UConn School of Social Work, 1798 Asylum Avenue, West Hartford, Connecticut.

UConn SSW participates in state-community partnership that registered 21,000+ new Latino voters

To achieve the profession’s social justice mission, social workers need to participate in community and political partnerships that empower indigenous community leadership and develop and support community grass root involvement. Nowhere was the success of such a partnership more evident than in the Connecticut Latino Voting Campaign “¡Tu Voto Si Cuenta!” (“Yes, Your Vote Counts!”). Latino and non-Latino individuals, youth, professionals, church leaders, voter advocacy organizations, elected and government officials, and educational institutions participated in the Voting Campaign’s two year state-wide community endeavor. Written by a social work member of the Voting Campaign, this article illustrates the value and the success of participating in a community and political partnership that contributed to Connecticut’s historic Latino 2008 voting turnout.

Dr. Antonia Cordero, Associate Professor

The Voting Campaign was a result of a 2007 state-wide summit of local and national participants designed to increase Latino civic and voter participation. As a consequence of the summit, strategic planning and partnerships were initiated with the goal of engaging a minimum of 10,000 Latino Connecticut residents in the 2008 Presidential Elections.  The voting campaign was coordinated by a Latino community activist and a Latino administrative government official. A Steering Committee was formed, comprised of Latino and non-Latino leaders, educators, and community members from across the state. The aim of the committee was to develop a decentralized voter outreach model with twelve state-wide local committees in charge of planning and conducting voter education, registration, and voter outreach.

Committee objectives included: 1) recruiting, advising and supporting local campaign coordinators in each city or town to coordinate local meetings and work with the Steering Committee, the Office of the Secretary of the State of Connecticut and the various Registrars of Voters in outreach efforts; 2) identifying, contacting, recruiting, and training local volunteers in the various target cities or communities to conduct actual voter education and registration activities and efforts under the guidance of the local committee and with the support of the Steering Committee; 3) providing statewide support and/or advice for media relations, publicity, marketing and general communication in a culturally/linguistically competent manner on behalf of the campaign; and 4) identifying and securing base funding for local and state-wide voter education, registration and outreach.

Twelve major cities in Connecticut were targeted for voter outreach: Hartford, New Haven, West Haven, Bridgeport, Waterbury, Danbury, New Britain, Meriden, New London, Windam/Willimantic, Stamford, and Norwalk. Steering subcommittees were formed (e.g. research and planning, media relations, outreach to youth, budget and financing) that met individually to study their respective areas and make recommendations to the full steering committee on all aspects of the campaign. The non-campaign mounted an aggressive media campaign (radio, print, and television) targeting the Spanish speaking market to encourage voter participation. The campaign also provided significant voter education on how to use paper ballots with the new optical scan voting technology, as well as information on voter rights, proper forms of voting identification, and door to door voter outreach on Election Day. The steering committee also enlisted local and national organizations to devise and implement mechanisms and initiatives through which various Latino demographic sub-groups would be enrolled and engaged in electoral participation.

One state-wide campaign initiative targeted to Latino youth took place on October 14, 2008 at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work hosted by the School’s Latino American Student Organization, Puerto Rican/Latino Studies Project, and Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work.  The event featured presentations by Valeriano Ramos and Fernando Betancourt, state coordinators of the voting campaign, on the differences between voter participation in Puerto Rico and participation by Puerto Ricans residing on the mainland in the United States. The voting campaign’s efforts to increase Latino participation were presented to inform and recruit university and community college students in attendance to join the voting campaign. This and other recruitment efforts galvanized the campaign’s volunteer youths to register new voters on college campuses and in state-wide community summer events. In addition, on Election Day, the youth participated in door to door efforts to get individuals to vote and worked as volunteers at state-wide election polls.

As a result of the campaign, the goal of registering 10,000 voters was doubled. 21,570 new Latino voters were registered. Election results reported that 53% of the state’s Latino population voted for Barack Obama, NASW’s endorsed presidential candidate. Social work values and ethics call for practitioners to promote and become active in culturally competent, social action and empowerment efforts. The success of this campaign illustrates the value and effectiveness of participating in partnerships that build culturally competent, diverse community and non-partisan political networks. Partnerships that empower and support indigenous community leadership, collaborate with key stake holders, enlist and support grass root community efforts.  “We have succeeded in the ¡Tu Voto Si Cuenta! Campaign beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. It is clear that nationally, Latinos are key swing voters in the Presidential election”, said Secretary of the State, Susan Bysiewicz.

Publication Title and Author:

A View of Community and Political Partnerships:
Empowering Connecticut Latino Voters and Community
By Antonia E. Cordero, DSW, Associate Professor UCONN SSW

Community Organizing Never Looked So Good

“A job that has not been all that alluring to college graduates is in resurgence, according to leading community organizers and educators. Once thought of as a destination for lefty radicals committed to living lives of low pay, frustration and bitter burnout, community organizing is now seen by many young people an exciting career.

With their jobs, students envision helping communities address urgent issues – economics or the environment, education or social justice – while developing leadership skills. And these jobs, students say, can actually lead to … well, you know.”  — Read Full Article: The New York Times, By SARA RIMER Published: April 10, 2009

Picture of Rylan Truman, who is following a career path that has been lightly traveled: Community Organizer
George Ruhe for The New York Times
Rylan Truman, a graduate student at
UConn School of Social Work, is following
a career path that has been lightly traveled:
Community Organizer.

Social work researchers studying relief efforts for Iraqi refugees

Despite its small size and fragile economy, Jordan hosts about half a million forced migrants and refugees who have fled Iraq since the United States-led war began in 2003, according to the United Nations.

Researchers Kathryn Libal and Scott Harding, both assistant professors in the School of Social Work, say the media have focused on U.S. military casualties and other costs of the war in Iraq, and the success of the “surge” of U.S. troops in the past year, while the displacement crisis has been largely ignored.

“This humanitarian crisis – both inside and outside of Iraq – has long-term consequences for Iraq and neighboring countries,” Harding says.

“If you’re concerned about stability and so-called security of the region, it’s important to understand that Jordan and Syria can’t absorb large numbers of people who don’t have a means to provide for themselves. And if you have generations of young Iraqis who aren’t in school learning a trade, that poses societal and potential security issues.”

Scott Harding, left, and Kathryn Libal in Amman, Jordan,
where they are studying the Iraqi refugee population.
Photo supplied by Kathryn Libal

Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon have the largest numbers of Iraqi refugees.

Libal and Harding are studying refugee relief efforts provided by international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), UN agencies, and the U.S. government to help develop insights into the evolving nature of humanitarian support for these refugee populations.

Harding says little attention has been paid to the roles these organizations play in shaping and sustaining refugee services in Jordan.

Since 2006, the two researchers have been conducting research to identify the ways in which services are being provided to Iraqi refugees in Jordan. They conducted interviews in the U.S. with NGOs and human rights groups, and then in Jordan, interviewing representatives of organizations working on humanitarian issues.

“We thought that some of the established humanitarian organizations would have a much more visible presence there,” Libal says.

“We thought they’d be providing a lot of services to a lot of refugees, but that wasn’t the case. There were few refugee camps, because most of the people were urban refugees. A significant number were doctors and medical professionals, which will have a long-term effect on the health and well-being of people living in Iraq.”

Iraqi refugees do not have legal refugee status in their host countries, Libal says: “Life is difficult for them. Most will not be granted permission to permanently resettle to the United States or other resettlement countries, and they can’t work legally.”

Harding says that under pressure from the NGOs and the U.S., during the past year, the Jordanian government has begun allowing Iraqi children to attend public school. But even though the children are now eligible, for a variety of reasons school attendance is uneven.

Read full article: http://advance.uconn.edu/2009/090323/09032308.htm

Shelters play key role in helping domestic violence victims, study finds

As state lawmakers discuss a proposal to keep Connecticut’s 18 domestic violence shelters staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, researchers at the School of Social Work’s Institute for Violence Prevention and Reduction have stepped in to supply key information to the debate.

Institute Director Eleanor Lyon went to the Capitol earlier this month to supply lawmakers with the results of the nation’s first multi-state study of the effectiveness of domestic violence shelters in providing women with the services they need.

Eleanor Lyon, Associate Professor-in-Residence
of Social Work and Director of the Institute for
Violence Prevention and Reduction.
Photo by Frank Dahlmeyer

The study, Meeting Survivors’ Needs: A Multi-State Study of Domestic Violence Shelter Experiences, was conducted by the Institute in collaboration with the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. It was based on a survey of 3,410 individuals served by domestic violence shelters in eight states, including Connecticut, during a six-month period in 2007-2008.

Overall, the study found that domestic violence shelters in Connecticut, as well as nationally, play a key role in helping protect victims and in providing important services.

One hundred percent of the domestic violence survivors surveyed in Connecticut said they received all or some of the help they needed with restraining orders, understanding domestic violence, safety planning, and child custody and welfare issues. Ninety-four percent said the staff made them feel welcome, while 91 percent said the staff treated them with respect.

“This study shows conclusively that the nation’s domestic violence shelters are meeting both the urgent and long-term needs of victims of violence, and helping them protect themselves and their children,” says Lyon. “Victims attribute meaningful change to the help they received at the shelter, but they also see areas where there is room for improvement.”

Read full article:  http://advance.uconn.edu/2009/090330/09033005.htm