Highlights and Happenings – September / October 2016

Laura Nissen on Urban Terrace - 1

Happy New (Academic) Year! We’ve launched yet another exciting school year here in the School of Social Work at Portland State University. At the annual welcoming and orientation events we held here in Portland last month, we ushered a new generation of human services professionals and scholars into our ranks. With so many social needs on the local, regional and national front, bringing competent, dedicated and compassionate social work and human services professionals into the world couldn’t be more important.

As we’ve geared up for the new year, there’s been lots going on and we have a number of ways you can engage with the School as well. This September / October issue of Highlights & Happenings features a few examples of what we’ve been up to and what’s coming up this fall.  We hope you enjoy!


Laura Burney Nissen
Dean and Professor

What’s Inside?


welcoming-and-orientations-2016Fall New Student Welcoming

With the start of the new academic year, the School of Social Work welcomed over 400 new students into its Bachelors of Social Work (BSW), Child and Family Studies (CFS), Master in Social Work (MSW), and Ph.D. in Social Work and Social Research programs this fall.

To get a glimpse of the fall welcoming and orientation activities produced by each of these programs, visit each program’s Flickr album.

-> View BSW’s Orientation Album
-> View CFS’ Orientation Album
-> View MSW’s Welcoming Album
-> View Ph.D.’s Orientation Album

Campus Pride Names PSU in List of Top LGBTQ-friendly Campuses

Campus Pride named Portland State University among the Top 30 LGBTQ-friendly college campuses in the country on its 2016 “Best of the Best” list.

For eight years, the list has highlighted the most LGBTQ-inclusive colleges and universities when it comes to policy, program and practice in higher education. Campus Pride chose 30 campuses to highlight this year based on their overall ratings on the Campus Pride Index and specific LGBTQ-inclusive measures.

“Prospective students and their families today expect colleges to be LGBTQ-friendly,” said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride and creator of the Campus Pride Index. “They want to know what LGBTQ programs, services and resources are available on the campus — and which are the ‘Best of the Best.’”

-> Read more about this exciting news

School of Social Work Faculty and Staff Make Connections with Social Work at State Hospital

This past summer a group of faculty and staff from the School of Social Work visited the Oregon State Hospital (OHS) in Salem, Oregon.

OHS is the primary state-run psychiatric hospital in the state of Oregon. It is perhaps best known as the filming location for the Academy Award-winning movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest starring Jack Nicholson.

During its visit, the team from the School was given a special tour of the Oregon State Hospital Museum of Mental Health by Dennie Brooks, daughter of longtime OHS superintendent Dean Brooks. The team also toured hospital facilities and spoke with social work professionals who work with OHS patients.

Pictured above are the participating School of Social Work faculty and staff along with representatives from the museum and hospital. Ph.D. candidate Beckie Child serves on the Oregon State Hospital Advisory Board and helped organize the visit.

The School salutes the important work the Oregon State Hospital provides to individuals and communities throughout our state!

School Makes List of Top Social Work Programs in US

sr-group-top-sw-programThe School of Social Work at Portland State University was recently named as one of the top US graduate programs in social work by SR Education Group.

Based on rankings submitted by alumni and student respondents, the School’s graduate programs were ranked #17 overall nationally and had the highest individual rates between quality of instruction, student diversity and satisfaction with degree.

According to the survey, “students from Portland State University appreciated the flexibility of a quality online education, with one student writing ‘I did not have to move to Portland, and was able to keep my current employment.’ The same student goes on to express her satisfaction with the program, saying, ‘Overall, I am pleased with the academic content and expertise of the professors.’”


drupel-sliders-02Portland State of Mind

The School of Social Work is again pleased to be participating in Portland State of Mind, Portland State University’s festival of music, films and other events designed to fire your imagination and deepen your knowledge.

This year we’re pleased to host a screening of a film about trauma informed care in action, a lecture by a nationally known speaker on child sexual abuse, and a day of service in our community. All events are free and open to the public.  We hope you can join us!

social-media-post-2Film Screening & Panel: Paper Tigers
Monday, October 17, 2016, 7:30pm-9:30pm, Smith Memorial Student Union, Rooms 237, 238, 239

Paper Tigers captures the pain, the danger, the beauty, and the hopes of struggling teens—and the teachers armed with new science and fresh approaches that are changing their lives for the better. Join us in following a year in the life of an alternative high school that has radically changed its approach to disciplining its students, becoming a promising model for how to break the cycles of poverty, violence, and disease that affects families. The film screening will be followed by a panel of experts working in the field of trauma-informed care.

-> Get Free Tickets

Shireman Social 2.pngNew Ways to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: A Public Health Lens
Wednesday, October 19, 2016, 2:30pm-4:00pm, Smith Memorial Student Union, Rooms 327, 328, 329

Guest Speaker: Dr. Elizabeth Letourneau

Wouldn’t it be better to stop child sexual abuse before it starts? Dr. Elizabeth Letourneau, director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, shares the latest research on child sexual abuse prevention and proposes novel new interventions that prevent abuse from occurring in the first place.

-> Get Free Tickets

dos-socialDay of Service
Saturday, October 22, 2016, 8:30am-2:00pm, Hoffmann Hall

Join us for a day of service highlighting food insecurity with a variety of engaging projects on and off campus. Enjoy morning refreshments, free lunch, and an engaging keynote speaker while we address driving for radical change in systems and service.

-> Register

Student Spotlight


Lindsay Merritt has been a student in the School of Social Work’s Ph.D. in Social Work and Social Research program since 2014. Upon finishing high school, Lindsay moved from rural Oregon to Portland and then to the Bay Area where she remained for 5 years. “During this time, I continued working with youth and adults either with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges or severe substance use disorders. Despite having years of experience, I was frequently told I needed a degree.”

Due to the financial burden that many students experience when entering higher education, Lindsay thought that she would never be able to pay for school and therefore not be able to get a degree. However, a friendly introduction to a student from the University of California, Berkeley helped change all of that.

“I met a student from UC Berkeley and learned about the FAFSA [the federal form to apply for financial aid]. I’d determined my stay in the Bay Area was complete and I wanted to return to Oregon to be closer to family and friends, so I filled out the FAFSA and enrolled at Portland Community College.”

When she finished her associate’s degree, Lindsay was accepted into Portland State’s Bachelors of Social Work (BSW) program and went on to complete her MSW in the advanced standing program.

As a part of her Ph.D. focus, Lindsay is exploring the associations between victimization and alcohol/marijuana use among American Indian youth living on or near reservations. She is also a co-investigator on the Tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting evaluations (TMIECHV) at PSU’s Regional Research Institute. She and a colleague have partnered with two American Indian communities in support of their efforts to develop and implement culturally relevant and rigorous evaluations to address local home visiting priorities. Their work also contributes to the local maternal child health knowledge base.

“The relationships we have developed over the years with staff, community members, and tribal leaders are profound,” she says. “We will forever be connected by our work together, as we all have a deep commitment to serving the community and strive to bolster the continued well-being of all American Indian.”

Lindsay’s long personal and professional history with community-based treatment settings and the injustice she says she has witnessed therein inspired her. She feels the need to take a more active role in addressing implicit and explicit structural barriers that limit self-determination, autonomy, and interdependence. She is currently participating in the development of a number of publications.

-> Get to know our Ph.D. students

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Curry-Stevens: Portland Newcomers Report Finds Immigrants, Refugees More Educated But Worse Off


The Portland Tribune ran a story that published some the findings of School of Social Work associate professor Ann Curry-Stevens and team’s report about newcomers to Portland and their experiences here.

Three highlights from the report:

  • “[N]ewcomers are much worse off than they were 10 years ago, even though on average they are more likely to have a college degree.”
  • “The results of the three-year study also found the fate of Portland’s newest residents depended a lot on the color of their skin.
  • “[A]nnual incomes of newcomers of color plummeted from $14,481 to just $9,304.”

The 186-page report calls for vast improvements in the way Portland-area government services support immigrants and refugees moving to the area. A launch event for the report was held at Portland State University’s Native American Student and Community Center, and was attended by a broad array of community members, many of whom were immigrants themselves.

The report, “In Need of a Long Welcome: Supporting the Integration of Newcomers to Portland,” follows the Portland City Council’s June 18 establishment of the New Portlanders Policy Commission. The commission is tasked with advising city government on ways to improve the integration of immigrants and refugees into the Portland community.

-> Read the article published by the Portland Tribune
-> Download Dr. Curry-Stevens’ Report

Faculty News and Publications

Addington, D. E., Norman, R., Bond, G. R., Sale, T., Melton, R., McKenzie, E., & Wang, J. (2016). Development and testing of the First-Episode Psychosis Services Fidelity Scale. Psychiatric Services.

Brannan, A. M., Brennan, E. M., & Rosenzweig, J. M. (2016). Factors contributing to employment outcomes for caregivers of children and youth with mental health disorders. Paper presented at the Symposium on Employment and Exceptional Care: Workplace, Family and Community Supports at the Work and Family Researchers Network Conference, Washington, DC.

Brennan, E. M., Rosenzweig, J. M., & Brannan, A. M. (2016). Parents of Young People with Disabilities and their Work-Life Challenges. Portland, OR: Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University.

Brennan, E. M., Rosenzweig, J. M., Jivanjee, P., & Stewart, L. M. (2016). Challenges and supports for employed parents of children and youth with special needs. In T. D. Allen & L. T. Eby (Eds.), Oxford handbook of work and family (pp. 165-181). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Buekea, N., & Caruso, N. (2016). The EASA Young Adult Leadership Council: Our Experiences and Vision. Focal Point: Youth, Young Adults & Mental Health: Early Psychosis Interventions, 30, 12-13. Portland, OR: Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University.

Koroloff, N., Sonheimer, D., Painter, K., & White, G. (2016). How Can We Learn About the Effectiveness of Transition Programs for Youth and Young Adults?: Findings from the Healthy Transitions Initiative. Webinar presented by the Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures. June 21, 2016. Recording and resources available online.

Melton, R., & Reese, S. L. (2016). Individual Placement and Support Model of Supported Employment: Modifications for First Episode Psychosis Programs. Focal Point: Youth, Young Adults & Mental Health: Early Psychosis Interventions, 30, 25-29. Portland, OR: Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University.

National Wraparound Initiative (2016). Increasing Youth and Young Adult Engagement in Wraparound (webinar slides). Portland, OR: Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University. -> Download

Nicolaidis, C., Raymaker, DM, McDonald, K..E., Kapp, S., Weiner, M., Ashkenazy, E., Gerrity, M., Kripke, C., Platt, L., Baggs, A. The Development and Evaluation of an Online Healthcare Toolkit for Autistic Adults and their Providers. Journal of General Internal Medicine. Online first June 6, 2016. (doi:10.1007/s11606-016-3763-6)

Sale, T. (2016). Introduction: Early Psychosis Intervention. Focal Point: Youth, Young Adults & Mental Health: Early Psychosis Interventions, 30, 3-4. Portland, OR: Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University.

Sale, T., Melton, R., Buekea, N., Deal, S., Gottlob, M., Pruitt, A., Blajeski, S., Ossowski, J. D. (2016). Author panel discussion: Focal Point 2016 (Early Psychosis Interventions). Webinar presented by the Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures. April 26, 2016. Recording and resources available online.

Seibel, C., & Jackson, S. (2016). Increasing youth and young adult engagement in treatment planning meetings. Presented at the Child Welfare Partnership/Leveraging Intensive Family Engagement (LIFE) Family Meeting Facilitator Training, Salem, Oregon.

Sellmaier, C., de Losada, J., McCarty, R., & Jivanjee, P. (2016). Preliminary evaluations of an online training for service providers working with young adults with mental health issues. Portland, OR: Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University. -> Download

Walker, J. S., Seibel, C. L., Jackson, S., & Ossowski, J. D. (2016). Introduction to the special section: Positive developmental strategies for engaging emerging adults and improving outcomes. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research. Available online ahead of print.

5 Resources for Social Work and Human Services Professionals

For some Oregon foster children, “home” is caseworker’s office

The loss of hundreds of foster-care beds in recent years has some Oregon social workers sharing their offices with children and youth in need of homes. Difficulties are many, caseworkers say, including the emotional strain of having a child witness unsuccessful calls for placement.

->Listen to this Oregon Public Broadcasting story to learn more.

ABC launches series starring child with special needs

ABC is launching a series called “Speechless,” which features a family raising a child who has special needs and is nonverbal. Executive producer Scott Silveri recently shared that the series should not be viewed as the “disability show” but, rather, a series about a real family.

->Learn more in this LA Times article.

Federal guidelines target needs of homeless students

The Department of Education issued new guidelines about how states and school districts should meet the needs of homeless students. As part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the guidelines address how homeless students are identified and how schools and social service providers can collaborate to help them.

-> Read more in this Washington Post article.

Social workers find, help homeless people under Missouri program

“Homeless and living in a well-worn minivan on a shopping center parking lot where he works, Kevin Wolden was dealing with mental health issues stemming from some rough patches in his life.” A new outreach program in St. Charles, Mo., provides homeless people with health checkups and help with housing and other needs. Social workers canvas the community to find homeless people in need of help, both at common sites and hidden locations.

->Learn more in this St. Louis Review article

Report: Veteran Homelessness Has Dropped By Nearly 50% Since 2010

“On a given night in January, there were fewer than 40,000 homeless veterans, according to the country’s annual Point-in-Time count. That marked a 47 percent decrease since the same count was conducted six years prior.”

->Read more in this Huffington Post article.




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