May 2021 NASW-NJ FOCUS Magazine

Page 1

MAY 2021 • Vol 30.6





Through the worst, Grief.



we find the good. Uncertainty. Terror.




Social Workers Find a Way CHAPTER ELECTIONS p. 06




P R E S I D E N T- E L E C T, Widian Nicola

1 S T V I C E P R E S I D E N T, Judyann McCarthy

2 N D V I C E P R E S I D E N T, Dawn Konrady C E N T R A L R E G I O N A L R E P, Caelin McCallum

S E C R E TA RY, Ralph Cuseglio N O R T H E A S T R E G I O N A L R E P, Sierra Spriggs

G R A D UAT E S T U D E N T R E P, Jennifer Sorensen

S O U T H E R N R E G I O N A L R E P, Miriam Stern

U N D E RG R A D UAT E S T U D E N T R E P, Jamie Terrone

N O R T H W E S T R E G I O N A L R E P, Veronica Grysko-Sporer


NASW-NJ has 12 units across the state of New Jersey. ATLANTIC/CAPE MAY/CUMBERLAND CHAIR, Janelle Fleming


MORRIS CHAIR, Cheryl Cohen CO-CHAIR, Veronica Grysko-Sporer


MERCER/BURLINGTON CHAIR, Miguel Williams CO-CHAIR, Michele Shropshire



MIDDLESEX CHAIR, Tina Maschi CO-CHAIR, Vimmi Surti


ESSEX CHAIR, Felicia Fdyfil-Horne CO-CHAIR, Ravjit Sekhon


UNION CHAIR, Hannah Korn-Heilner

CHAPTER OFFICE E X E C U T I V E D I R E C TO R Jennifer Thompson, MSW or ext. 111

D I R E C TO R O F D E V E LO PM E N T & E D U C AT I O N Helen French or ext. 122

D I R E C TO R O F S P E C I A L P ROJ E C T S Annie Siegel, MSW or ext. 128

D I R E C TO R O F M E M B E R S E RV I C E S Christina Mina, MSW or ext. 117

D I R E C TO R O F A DVO C AC Y & C OM MU N I C AT I O N S Jeff Feldman, MSW, LSW or ext. 114

A R T D I R E C TO R Katherine Girgenti or ext. 129

M E M B E R S H I P A N D E D U C AT I O N S P E C I A L I S T Willis Williams

E X E C U T I V E A S S I S TA N T Ishma Iqbal or ext. 110

N A S W– N J C H A P T E R O F F I C E 30 Silverline Drive, Suite 3, North Brunswick, NJ 08902, Ph:732.296.8070,



























Thank you to our partner Rutgers School of Social Work for their support of NJ FOCUS

PRESIDENT' S M E S SAG E Re flecting on the term as Chapter President



As my term as Chapter President nears its end, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the experience and the great work that we have done while tackling the changing needs of our members and the communities we serve. During my presidency, my focus has been to organically increase membership, expand our offerings and resources for social workers in all spaces, and to continue to build a community that we can all call our professional home. Though the events of the last two years could not have been predicted, the Chapter’s immediate efforts to pivot to address the changing needs of our members resulted in these goals still being met. As the world came to a halt due to the global pandemic, and many of us shifted to a remote work platform, our Chapter immediately transitioned to 100% virtual service and program delivery. We provided relevant resources and took additional steps to create new certificate programs for Telemental Health and Advance Care Planning. In addition to this, we listened and responded to the needs of our members by creating several new Shared Interest Groups (SIGs) including for Macro Social Workers, School Social Workers, Black Social Workers, and Social Workers interested in Criminal Justice and Corrections. One of the accomplishments I am most proud of is our investment in the future of our profession, highlighted by our Sponsor a Student Campaign which resulted in over 200 sponsored student memberships. This program has allowed hundreds of students—many who may not have been able to afford membership—to access NASW resources and supports as they begin their social work careers. In response to the existing disparities that exist around racial equality and social equity, our chapter worked to lead an initiative around antiracism—the Race, Reconciliation, & Responsibility series. We enhanced these efforts by using this year’s Annual Conference to engage in important discussions on the influence of race and privilege in the social work profession. Participants left not only informed, but also equipped with concrete strategies and tools to utilize in their lives and practices. During the challenges presented over the past two years, many of us found community within our membership in NASW-NJ. More than ever, social workers have seen increased value in their membership and have been able to rely on the Chapter to keep them informed and connected during these tumultuous times. In fact, our Chapter has increased its membership over the past year, making us the second largest NASW chapter in the nation! The accomplishments we achieved during my term have truly been a team effort. I would be remiss to not take a moment to acknowledge and thank our dedicated Board of Directors, Committees, Units, and Shared Interest Groups, in addition to our devoted staff. It has been an honor to lead and serve alongside these dedicated individuals, who truly value the profession and the work of our Chapter. As my term ends, I know the new Board, our volunteers, and our staff will continue the great work our Chapter has undertaken. Thank you all for your support throughout my term. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to elevate our profession and move our Association forward in any capacity that I can. As active members, I encourage you to continue to stay engaged and connected with our Chapter and your fellow social workers. Remember, as a community, and as social workers, we are always strongest together!

Nkechi Okoli, MSW, LSW

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EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S M E S SAG E For ward Thinking: A return to “normal ” Friends and Colleagues,



With one year under our virtual belts in a global pandemic and our communities inching daily toward more of us being fully vaccinated, we have spent a considerable amount of time listening to you, our members about what a return to “normal” means and looks like. Many of you have shared your deepest desire to return to in-person events and networking—as the community we have built together is critical to your self-care and well-being. In the next breath, you have shared that you also have trepidation in doing so, which is completely understandable. Just as you are considering what the “return” looks like for your family and work, so are we at the Chapter. We share your desire to come together in person but also a need to balance the health and safety of our volunteers, team and their families by extension. Like many of you, we are also still juggling working remotely with partners and children also still fully remote. There is no “right” answer as we are all in this together, navigating the uncertainty of a global pandemic together for the first time. However, we do want to honor your needs and create space to the best of our ability. Throughout the pandemic, we have maintained a strict all-virtual calendar which has been met with resounding success due to your willingness to embrace the new world and embark on this journey together! For many of our programs, you’ve shared that virtual is easier and preferable—what a wonderful surprise! We will continue to provide our continuing education programs exclusively online for the remainder of 2021.

in number initially—giving us time to work out the systems, policies and feel confident in our ability to come together safely without undo risk to staff or participants. Many of you have asked about our Annual Conference in 2022, as well. I can assure you; we are equally as anxious to return to an in-person event! While we do not yet know if we will be able to do so; we are exploring all possible scenarios and creatively thinking through new options, including hybrid events. Our Conference is one of the largest and most respected in the nation and our goal is to continue to exceed your expectations while also keeping the event safe and affordable. We aim to have a plan communicated with you by the fall. COVID-19 has deeply divided our communities, and in many ways the pandemic has been seen as political. I want to reassure you that our approach to re-opening has been made with feedback of our membership and teams in mind. While there may not be a perfect solution, it is our sincerest hope that we can begin to create a space where we feel comfortable coming together and can do so with the mindset of keeping everyone healthy. You can read our policy guidance for in-depth information about how we will re-open here. I invite you to continue connecting in the ways that feel most comfortable to you. We will see you both online and in-person. In health and solidarity,

For our unit and networking events, we will slowly begin to allow for in-person events, strictly adhering to CDC and State guidelines as well as Association best practices. These events will be limited in capacity, require social distancing and masks of all attendees, in addition to health screenings upon entry. To limit our exposure since the team at NASW-NJ staffs events, our events will be limited

NJFOCUS • May 2021 | 5

2021 NASW-NJ

Voting is now open.

CHAPTER ELECTIONS Candidates for 1st Vice President

Dr. Tina Maschi, LCSW

Candidate for BSW Student Rep.

Veronica Grysko-Sporer, LCSW

Onyinye Nnenji, MSW

Candidates for MSW Student Rep.

Candi Fritzinger

John Serzan

Hannah Loffman

Candidates for Delegate Assembly

Jeff Dickert, LCSW

Chris Heer, JD, LCSW

Pat Spencer, LCSW

Jennifer Sorensen

Dr. Juan Rios, LCSW

Dr. Widian Nicola, LCSW

Charles Giraldo

Candidates for CCNLI

VOTE NOW: nts/2021-NASW-NJ-Elections

6 | NJFOCUS • May 2021 Anthony Francis, LSW

Dr. La'Tesha Sampson, LCSW


Carrie Conger, LSW

Candidates for Regional Rep.


difference maker shaker





Reach Your Audience with a Year-Round partnership. Email: NJFOCUS • May 2021 | 7


Photo (Right): Courtesy of the Antonia Pantoja Papers, 1923-2002 at the Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora, Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, City University of New York.


Antonia Pantoja (1922 – 2002)


ecent discourse among the social work profession has focused on the “white washing” of social work history and education. Social work courses that discuss the history of social work often focus on the formative writings and work of individuals such as Jane Addams, Mary Richmond, Frances Perkins and other white social work luminaries. The website www. features a list of “50 Notable Social Workers in U.S. History,” 42 of whom are white. 2 The Wikipedia page for “social work” mentions only two American social workers by name: Jane Addams and Mary Richmond. 3 A 2014 blog posted on the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work website cites the “9 Most Influential Women in the History of Social Work,” all of whom are white. 4 And a 2018 blog available on the Rutgers University School of Social Work website offers a list of “Influential Women in the History of Social Work.” 5 Of the 10 women listed, all but one, Dorothy Height, are white.

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Over the next years’ worth of FOCUS issues, we’ll be digging deeper into the historical archives (thank you internet!), beyond the usually cited names, to bring to light the stories of lesser known individuals, primarily persons of color, who have helped move the profession of social work for ward, as well as society as a whole. This series of articles does not intend to deny the contributions of commonly cited, white individuals to the profession of social work, but rather is intended to raise awareness and create discussion about how we think of social work history and the development of the profession in the U.S.

Pantoja would join with other young politically active people in New York to form the Hispanic Young Adults Association (HYAA), an organization interested in understanding why Puerto Ricans lacked access to education, health care, and stable incomes in New York City. They used their research to create community outreach initiatives that could address the inequities around them.13

Dr. Antonia Pantoja (1922 – 2002) was regarded by many in the Puerto Rican Latino community as one of the most important leaders in the United States. She was involved in a variety of community and professional organizations, all working toward the goal of building stronger Puerto Rican and minority communities, including the National Association of Social Workers, the Council on Social Work Education, the Ford Foundation, the National Urban Coalition, the Museo del Barrio, and several other groups and organizations.6 Her life's work revolved around educational access for the disadvantaged and community self-determination. Pantoja’s lifelong mission was to empower community members to speak for themselves.7

In 1970, she created and subsequently led the Puerto Rican Research and Resource Center in Washington, D.C., which resulted in the founding of what is now Boricua College in the early 1970. A major issue for Pantoja was access to language resources in public schools for Spanish-speaking students. In 1972, ASPIRA brought a lawsuit demanding the New York City Board of Education provide English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) in New York City classrooms. The result was a landmark piece of legislation in the bilingual education movement.15

A black, queer, Puerto Rican educator, social worker, and foundational figure in the Puerto Rican community in postWorld War II New York City, Pantoja established several groundbreaking institutions in New York and in Puerto Rico.8 Her goal was to enhance civil rights and educational opportunities and to promote “positive imagery and self-love” for Puerto Ricans in New York and beyond.9 Pantoja was born on September 13, 1922 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to an impoverished family of laundry and tobacco workers. She was raised by her mother and her grandparents. Her grandfather was a laborer and union organizer.10 She earned her teaching degree from the University of Puerto Rico with help from wealthy neighbors. Later in life, she would obtain a scholarship to study at Hunter College, and subsequently, a Master’s degree in social work from Columbia University. She would go on to earn a Ph.D. from Union Graduate School (now Union Institute & University) in Cincinnati, Ohio.11 Pantoja arrived in New York City in November 1944, where she obtained a job as a welder in a factory making lamps for children. While there, she began to understand and experience the harsh racism and discrimination against Puerto Ricans in New York. She became an activist in the factory, providing information to other workers about their rights and how to organize a union.12

Pantoja recognized Puerto Rican teenagers needed a support system from within their own community. In response, she founded ASPIRA—the Spanish word for “aspire”—in 1961. ASPIRA offered tutoring, Puerto Rican history and culture classes, and leadership training, empowering students to advocate for change.14

In 1978 she moved to San Diego, California, where she became an associate professor at the School of Social Work at San Diego State University. There she met her partner of 30 years, Dr. Wilhelmina Perry. Together they founded the Graduate School of Community Development in San Diego.16 In 1996, President Clinton presented Pantoja with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the first Puerto Rican woman to receive this honor.17 She was still actively working when she died of cancer in 2002 at age 80.18 Courtesy of the Antonia Pantoja Papers, 1923-2002 at the Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora, Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, City University of New York. 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 ibid 9 ibid 10 11 12 13 14 ibid 15 16 ibid 17 18 ibid 1

NJFOCUS • May 2021 | 9



10 | NJFOCUS • May 2021

Public Safety & Violence Prevention

The Community Care and Justice Initiative by Juan Rios, DSW, LCSW

" Envisioning a more proactive, preventative, and collective approach to mental health and wellness."


n the face of heightened divisiveness within the country at large, the South Orange Village Center Alliance, in 2017, emblazoned the town’s streets with banners proclaiming a simple yet telling message: “Everybody Belongs Here.” Committed to embodying that message—which extends from a long and storied tradition of diversity, intentional integration, and public service within South Orange—in 2021, South Orange Village created the Community Care & Justice Initiative (CC&J). Headed by Village Trustee and Chair of the Health and Public Safety Committee, Donna Coallier and Dr. Juan Rios, Director of the Seton Hall University Masters of Social Work program, CC&J takes a health and wellness approach to public safety by cultivating respect, compassion, and justice as the centerpiece of the community ecosystem. These core social work values are embedded into every systemic component of this initiative. CC&J is delivered and financed through the South Orange Police Department. Currently, this department and its cohorts lack access to state-of-the art—or even adequate—training on mental health awareness, de-escalation techniques, implicit and explicit bias, and restorative/transformative justice practices. As a result, the police department and rescue squad have an outsized impact on community

mental health and wellness without the needed investment in training, schooling, and credentialing to appropriately steward this impact. To date, the financial cost of emergency mental health crisis engagements in our community has fallen primarily on the police department and rescue squads, whose budgets have sparse room for mental health and wellness training—deemed “extra” according to the currently outdated law enforcement and emergency medical curriculum. The Community Care & Justice solution envisions a more proactive, preventative, and collective approach to mental health and wellness. CC&J engages the whole community, as well as establishes a partnership with first responders and newly hired social work professionals. This model is a framework that engages community-wide research on values, assets and needs, then utilizes the data to inform strategic interventions that fit the respective community. CC&J also establishes continued assessment/ evaluations from University researchers to track its outcomes and ensure the efficacy for replication. The mission of Community Care & Justice is to build a care and compassion platform that seeks to engage South Orange community members in designing and traveling their own wellness journeys,

NJFOCUS • May 2021 | 11

with a particular focus on protecting and elevating the community’s most vulnerable members and its youth. Community is broadly defined by South Orange Township as: “people who live, work, attend college, or own businesses [in South Orange] as well as their visitors and patrons, and our neighbors in bordering municipalities.”

live in. Our social work values of human dignity, social justice, service, and importance of human relationships are transferable values that should be embedded into community movements and governmental initiatives designed to address what peace and transformative justice work looks like in our respective communities.

CC&J Program goals include the following: •

To better serve our entire community through public health outreach with particular care for our youth and others who can benefit from social work and restorative justice, and/or experience bias or racial inequities, crime, bullying, homelessness, substance misuse, in-home violence, mental health crises, etc.

To further enhance South Orange Police Department’s cultural improvements already underway and permanently embed care and compassion service values into department operational strategy, protocol, and day to day interactions.

To develop best practices that are data driven and scalable so they can be replicated across other Essex County communities and beyond.

CC&J is unique because South Orange Township is a small municipality. As such, we were able to garner support at all levels of government (elected officials, police and health departments, municipal administration) to quickly deliver change with minimal bureaucracy. Many larger municipalities have similar reform efforts underway, but none involve all levels of government and most are looking at much different problem sets. Furthermore, in the state of New Jersey, close to 80% of our municipalities are small in scale with similar demographics and problems as those we face in South Orange—so there is tremendous potential to scale our solution here in New Jersey and beyond. It is our hope CC&J will be a model that social workers across the state and country can bring to their communities by first recognizing that there is no “one size fits all” model to community wellness and prevention. It begins by engaging the community members first and allowing them to have a decision on how they design the future they would like to

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About the Author: Dr. Juan A. Rios is an Assistant Professor at Seton Hall University Master of Social Work program. He is presently on a research sabbatical partnering with the Township of South Orange Township on reimagining public safety. His research interests include integrating care and compassion into societal and pedagogical structures through transformative/ caring justice f rameworks.

Public Safety & Violence Prevention

Bloomf ield Township: Transforming Human Service and Law Enforcement Collaboration by Karen Lore, LCSW and Paula Peikes, LCSW

“The role of the social workers stationed in the police department will be to provide crisis intervention and assessment services and to advise the police when the call is better suited for a social work intervention.”


he Department of Human Services in Bloomfield Township works to develop programs that address the needs of poor and working-class residents in the town. Working together we have networked with faithbased organizations and community leaders and successfully collaborated to better coordinate and deliver services to residents in our town of more than 47,000. In the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd and other incidences of police violence against persons of color, Bloomfield township has taken multiple steps to address the safety of all residents and to ensure fairness and accountability in encounters between law enforcement and residents of color. In the past year, the township held multiple community conversations on race and police violence and adopted seven of the eight policies outlined in the “8 Can’t Wait Campaign” to decrease the possibility of police violence. The police department has also implemented new training

procedures that include recognizing implicit biases and de-escalation. These trainings are mandatory for all officers. Township police have also taken steps to address those cases where police are called repeatedly to address social issues and disturbances—cases where a typical law enforcement response may not be the best way to handle the needs of the residents involved. The problem is multi-faceted and compounded by the many social issues impacting residents who more frequently interact with law enforcement. Recognizing, this need, police have sought to formalize a relationship with our Human Services division to offer social work support to officers in the field. The intent of this partnership is to have social workers immediately involved when police are dispatched in response to mental health/ family/domestic/elderly issues and other behavioral/ social issues that may require more of a specialized social work response.

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To launch this initiative, our town convened a task force comprised of key executive staff, council members, and the mayor; also included were the police and health director and lead social workers from our Human Services division. Our in-house staff of clinical social workers were uniquely positioned and qualified to provide valuable input on the complex needs of residents. In our discussions, the task force considered programs implemented in other communities both locally and on a national level, but we ultimately determined to tailor our program based on internal resources and experience in the field. The law enforcement and human/social work collaborative program that has emerged from the work of the task force is based on past cases, collaborations, and working relationship we have built with the police in Bloomfield over the past 30+ years. While there are many models of policehuman/social services collaboration, what makes our model unique is that we are working from within, building on current resources and programs, rather than contracting out or having a non-profit entity take the lead. This is a critical difference and one that benefits us tremendously by formalizing a direct relationship between township social workers, governing body, and police, thus providing ready access to municipal resources, programs, and services at every level. Community-based social work and practice are at the heart of this work. The ultimate intent of this new program is to reduce recidivism, reduce police intervention in non-violent calls, appropriately address the needs of residents in distress through established social work practices, and improve relationships between police and the community. In this model, social workers will be on-site and available to the police from 8:30am to 12 midnight Mondays - Fridays to co-respond with police on certain calls. Social workers will be available on-call from midnight to 8:30am and on weekends in case their services are needed. The role of the social workers stationed in the police department will be to provide crisis intervention and assessment services and to advise the police when the call is better suited for a social work intervention. The larger task of the social workers will be to follow-up after each incident.

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Case management, community linkage, coordination with family members, and education will be critical in producing successful outcomes for the residents involved. We are currently looking into grants and other potential funding sources to help extend the scope and reach of this initiative. The program is expected to launch within the next 6 months. We are currently recruiting for BSW and MSW level social workers. You can find our job posting on the NASW-NJ Job Center or view the announcement here.

About the Author: Karen Lore, LCSW has been with the Bloomf ield Division of Human Services since 1988. She currently serves as the Director of Health and Human Services and previously served as the clinical Director of the division’s outpatient mental health program. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, a licensed clinical social worker in NJ and obtained Diplomate status in the f ield of Social work in 1993 for her advanced clinical practice and expertise. Paula Peikes, LCSW, has been employed with the Township of Bloomf ield since 2000. She began her career in the town as a social work intern and was recently promoted to Director of Social Work. Paula is a licensed clinical social worker in NJ and has advanced certif ication in Family Therapy and training in EMDR. She also chairs the Bloomf ield Municipal Alliance. For more information on Bloomf ield Human Services or to contact Paula, visit www. bloomf

Public Safety & Violence Prevention

Creating Trauma in the Name of Preparation: The Reality of School Lockdown Drills by Nancy Kislin, LCSW, MFT

“...I interviewed hundreds of students and parents to study the impact of these drills and educate parents about their children’s experiences. I learned many children were feeling anxious about school safety, not just from potential active shooters, but also from the drills designed to prepare them for these situations. ”


tudents across our nation have come of age in a time when the basic assumption, “I will be safe in school,” no longer holds true. With the proliferation of the internet and the 24-hour news cycle, students learn about the latest mass shooting in real time. They go to school with the constant fear of being shot to death. On top of that, they must now cope with security drills in school, known as “lockdown drills”—active shooter and evacuation drills designed to prepare students for these horrific occurrences. Every day in America, schools conduct security, or "lockdown,” exercises to combat and prepare for the threat of violence. Forty-two states, including New Jersey, mandate once-a-month lockdown drills, in addition to the 10 fire drills that are required. These exercises, designed to simulate active-shooter situations, are often not announced as drills and are conducted without warning. Although intended and designed to protect and prepare children, the real-

world impact of this practice is highly damaging to the very students it is meant to protect. Research reveals kids are showing signs of severe stress and trauma as an unintended consequence of these lockdown exercises. In research for my book on active shooter drills in schools, I interviewed hundreds of students and parents to study the impact of these drills and educate parents about their children’s experiences. I learned many children were feeling anxious about school safety, not just from potential active shooters, but also from the drills designed to prepare them for these situations. For instance, many reported worrying about going to the bathroom during the school day for fear of a lockdown event taking place while they’re on the way to, or in, the bathroom. Some openly discussed whether jumping out a second story window was a safer option than being trapped with a shooter in the school.

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My research concludes that the very lockdown drills designed to secure a school and protect students are actually producing anxiety, stress, and trauma in participating students and staff. These drills simulate chaos and create fear, but do nothing to instill resilience in kids. We must redesign these drills so they instill skills and awareness in participants, rather than simply focus on the performative component of mimicking an active shooter situation.

shooter drills, then we act as if it was completely normal to pretend to be hiding from a violent killer. Nothing about that situation—drill or otherwise— is normal. By acknowledging the stress created by these school safety drills, we can validate students’ feelings in the moment, so they know others are struggling with fear and anxiety in the wake of these drills, rather than leaving them to experience these emotions alone and in silence.

On April 15, Governor Murphy proposed authorizing the NJ Department of Education to establish trauma-informed and age-appropriate standards for lockdown drills, including encouraging preparation over simulation, barring use of simulated gunshots, providing advanced notice to parents about planned drills, duration limits, and training, and prohibiting rewarding children for fighting off potential gunmen during a drill. I say “BRAVO, Governor Murphy” for taking these bold steps to protect the mental, emotional, and physical health of all children in our state. Following the Governor’s announcement, I contacted several of the young people I originally interviewed for my book, in search of their thoughts and reactions. One 17-year-old, told me, “this is a very good thing. It is common sense to just let us kids know it is a drill.” She continued: I am angry about a lockdown that occurred a few months ago. My friends and I were walking back from Gym class when a teacher yelled for us to come hide in her closet. She told us to lock the door and barricade ourselves in. Then she left. Thankfully, it turned out to be a drill. You know, I wouldn’t have cried so hard and had nightmares if I had known it was a drill. My school didn’t realize how upset we were. They acted like it was no big deal. But I thought I was going to die. My research, as well as recent statements by the Governor, should encourage action to ensure staff are trained to teach children strategies of self-care and resilience while addressing potential active shooter situations. Moreover, both teachers and students would benefit from extended processing time following these drills, rather than having to resume class the minute the “all clear” is sounded—a practice I refer to as the “double assault ” on children. First, we traumatize kids through unannounced active

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About the Author: Nancy Kislin, LCSW, MFT, is a New Jersey native, mother, child and adolescent psychotherapist, trauma researcher and author of the book “LOCKDOWN: Talking to Your Kids About School Violence.” She maintains a child and adolescent psychotherapy practice in Central N.J. Learn more at





THE LATEST FROM THE FIELD The Latest i n All Th in gs Aca d e m ia


W h a t to Wa tch W h a t We D i g

NJFOCUS • May 2021 | 17


Seeing Resilience: What a Year Reveals by Sanjana Ragudaran, PhD, MSW

I am increasingly reminded of the global-local interconnectivity, and the intersectionality of social problems."


ll I could think of in mid-March 2020 was how to successfully transition my classes from in-person to online synchronous learning. Having had some experience in teaching asynchronous and hybrid modalities, transitioning to synchronous was manageable for me. However, the uncertainty of not knowing how long we’d be conducting courses virtually, along with personal and student life challenges, meant I had to constantly tweak course expectations. Fortunately, having previously established working relationships with students helped in moving deadlines and evolving expectations around assignments. By April 2020, I started to realize the tsunamisized impact of the pandemic. My next thoughts were twofold as a macro social work academic: “what do I do and how can I teach about this?” There was a need to document migrant experiences during the pandemic, so, with the help of my School’s networks, I connected with an agency working with migrant communities. Teaching the course “Global Human Rights and Social Justice”

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over the summer provided me the opportunity to deliver the content through the lens of the pandemic. Although I felt hopeless and helpless at the start of the pandemic, I saw opportunities to learn and use my skills. This transition did not take place overnight. Conversations mattered. I am grateful for wonderful academic colleagues in my school, across campus, and within my state! O ur school meetings, and colleagues connecting to check-in with each other were vital during this time. Being actively engaged in our faculty union provided another avenue for me to develop my organizing and advocacy skills. I have renewed appreciation of unions because of this experience. Engaging in conversations helped me process current issues around the pandemic which enabled me to car ve out my work ahead. I was back in my groove until I read about the George F loyd murder over Memorial Day Weekend. Mass protests around the countr y had

We continued this conversation into the fall when I shared information with faculty encouraging field professors to engage in conversations around voter rights with students. This was important academically, as well, as students learn about social welfare policies in the spring, but elections are held in the fall. Although I experienced some relief from the election outcome, something inside me was still unsettled. The events of Januar y 6 solidified that our work is far from over. My next challenge will be to work with agencies to institute voter registration plans for their clients. The increasing human rights violations migrants encounter has also driven me to actively engage with the NGO committee on migration providing me the opportunity to work towards

migrant rights locally and globally. Continued conversations within my field, and beyond, around voting rights and migration have been key. Entering the new decade, the pandemic has brought a multitude of problems to the forefront— problems that we have been raising and addressing for decades. As I reflect on the past year and think ahead, I am increasingly reminded of the globallocal interconnectivity, and the intersectionality of social problems. We need to continue conversations and engage both in and out of our field to bring this work to our campuses and our classrooms. As social workers and academics, we must seize this window of opportunity to hammer on harder—to get into “good trouble” as John Lewis aptly stated.

About the Author: Dr. Sanjana Ragudaran is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at Monmouth University. She worked as a social worker in Singapore in both micro and macro settings prior to moving to the United States.

NJFOCUS • May 2021 | 19


a ripple effect on our campus. Students on our campus were engaged and formed the Students for Systemic Change. Social Work Society board members were equally engaged with this newly formed group, simultaneously planning their annual Teach In on the timely topic of how the global pandemic shed light on pertinent issues. Student engagement was key for me during this time, as this was an opportunity for me to guide students outside the classroom. The 2020 elections were also looming in my mind along with that sense of hopelessness; I knew I had to do something. I had attended webinars on voter registration thanks to the National Social Work Voter Mobilization Campaign and hosted one hour lunch and learn sessions on the importance of voting in social work directed at field agencies.


What’s Next for Telemental Health? by Pat Spencer, LCSW

"Telehealth is here to stay. The question is, in what form?"


rior to the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth was a service offered by some mental health practitioners, primarily to clients living in rural areas who had limited or no access to in person services, in emergency rooms for crisis evaluations and on various crisis call and text lines. In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and states shut down, telehealth became the primary modality for treatment for outpatient therapy, outpatient psychiatric care, IOP and PHP services. Even crisis services transitioned to providing services remotely. During those first few months, the rules regarding HIPAA compliant platforms were temporarily lifted, the licensing laws in various states were adjusted for the new reality of clients living across state lines, insurance companies were mandated to cover telehealth, and practitioners and clients learned how to work with telehealth platforms. Now, over a year into the pandemic, as vaccines become more widely available, we are beginning to wonder what healthcare and social work will look like after the pandemic. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer, but one thing is for sure— telehealth is here to stay. The question is, in what form? Many factors will impact the future of telehealth services. Some factors include licensing laws,

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insurance reimbursement policies, HIPAA guidelines, accessibility to stable high-speed internet and accessibility to hardware that will allow for privacy and confidentiality. LICENSING LAWS Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, state laws determined if a social worker could treat a person based on their location. This worked well when a majority of clients were being seen in person. We knew easily, if the person was physically in my office, and I am licensed in my state then I was legally able to treat this person. As the pandemic hit and most practitioners transitioned to telehealth, those clients could now be located in different states. As state governors declared States of Emergencies, some states allowed for practitioners licensed out of state to treat a person in their state. Each state differed on their requirements, or if this practice was even allowed. This created, and still creates, a great deal of confusion. In our post pandemic world, states will hopefully consider entering into a cross state compact. This will allow licensed practitioners to practice in states within the compact. It will allow for mobility of practitioners, more continuity of care for clients, and wider access to trained mental health professionals.



Prior to COVID-19, insurance payment for telehealth services was inconsistent. Each insurance plan would determine the reimbursement rate, if the provider needed to be in-network, and if a specific telehealth platform needed to be used. Also prior to COVID-19, per Medicare regulations, the services had to be provided via synchronous video; during the pandemic, Medicare now allows audioonly telephone calls. We do not yet have a clear understanding of what the insurance companies will do when the pandemic ends. However, we can expect insurance companies to follow Medicare’s lead. HIPAA GUIDELINES During the pandemic, the requirements for a HIPAA compliant telehealth platform were modified. It is expected that these HIPAA requirements will be restored post-pandemic. Regardless, it is sound clinical practice to use HIPAA compliant software, and this may be required by the practitioner’s malpractice insurance. What can we expect in the coming months? As I gaze into my crystal ball, I see us creating a new normal that will be a mix of both in person services and telehealth services. We will be navigating the web of insurance companies and their various reimbursement policies. We will be working with our own and our client’s anxiety about a return to seeing people in our offices. We will find a practice that fits our style, our client ’s needs, and that complies with the various rules and regulations that emerge.

About the Author: Pat Spencer, LCSW has been working and teaching in the f ield of social work for over 20 years and is the owner of BTC Counseling in Highland Park, NJ. Learn more at

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Medical Social Workers on The Frontlines: A Call for Cooperative Collaboration By Michelle Branigan, MSW, LCSW, ACW, BCD "Collaboration—interdepartmentally, cross profession, cross specialty, cross agency—was key to our ability to outlast this viral storm."


s a social worker in a medical setting, I am used to the phrase “the epidemic” being used as shorthand for the opioid epidemic. This epidemic did not discriminate by race, age, ethnicity, or economic background. If patients survived an overdose, our social work duty was to provide counsel and information, as well as coordinate inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. In January 2020, the concept of another epidemic—let alone a global pandemic—was distant from our daily opioid epidemic reality. Master’s level social workers are known by their fellow health care team members as the problem solvers, planners, compassionate listeners, partners in care, voice of ethical reason, and advocates in selfdetermination for patient and families. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our social work team would routinely start our day doing rounds with the unit nurses, case managers, and hospitalist physicians to plan out the priority patient plans of care. Social workers were tasked with the responsibility of managing the more complex psychosocial issues, long term care, end of life, hospice care, substance abuse, psychiatric placements and more.

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Everything changed the week of March 14, 2020. It was like being transported into a sci-fi movie. Those of us old enough to remember the movie drew parallels to the 1969 techno-thriller, The Andromeda Strain. Our hospital protocols changed as patients began streaming in with this threatening new sickness called COVID-19. We were faced with a global medical tsunami! In the early days, only a few doctors wore masks when initially treating patients; however, as each day passed, it was abundantly clear we were facing something monumental which no one had previously encountered in this lifetime. Full medical protective equipment became non-negotiable. Within a few days, all staff members were wearing masks, scrubs, and completing frequent temperature checks. Terrified of bringing this deadly virus home to our families, staff would share stories of stripping off their clothes outdoors and running into the shower as soon as they arrived home. Medical Units became what was newly termed, “COVID Positive Units.” Social workers united with floor nurses who were inundated with family members desperate for

By April 2020, our hospital was at 80% COVIDpositive capacity. Partnership with the Palliative Care staff became even more essential, as families faced difficult, heart-wrenching decisions. More than ever, families needed communication and support to deal with their fears, pain, sadness, and loss.

What has become obvious, and was paramount during these days, is the realization that we all need each other: no single entity can do it alone. Collaboration—interdepartmentally, cross profession, cross specialty, cross agency—was key to our ability to outlast this viral storm. As we slowly emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, my hope is that the extended health care community learns from this experience and leverages it to remove barriers within the care continuum, allowing us to build and maintain more robust, collaborative, cooperative, cross-discipline networks for the well-being of the patients and communities we serve.

Local nursing homes transferred to us many residents diagnosed with COVID-19, then worked with us to develop pathways for patients who survived to return to those facilities. We collaborated with hospice social workers who had developed bereavement outreach plans for families who experienced a loss. Sadly, many of our elderly patients passed away. Collaboration with funeral homes was at its peak. Thankfully, our surrounding community demonstrated their appreciation and love for us— their “healthcare heroes.” They posted signs in the neighborhood cheering us on. They joined us in “clap outs” for COVID survivors. Volunteers sewed masks. Restaurants and community residents showed their support daily through donations of food for workers. A Broadway star sang for us outside our front lobby. Local students made signs and cards which were posted throughout the hospital. Health care team members collected food for the local food pantries, responding to the rising rate of food insecurity. We also strived to care for our own. The Social Work Department collaborated with Patient Family Experience and Spiritual Care to develop Resilience Webinars and a Virtual Resilience Lounge to provide an outlet for employees who were exhausted by the workload, devastated by the staggering number of deaths, but who nevertheless persevered through these challenging times. One participant left the following note: “With gratitude for giving us strength and hope throughout these trying and most difficult times. We are facing a battle. You are the troopers and I would go to war with you guys.”

About the Author: Michelle Branigan, MSW, LCSW, ACW, BCD, is a medical social worker and Manager of the Social Workers in the Care Coordination Department at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, NJ. She earned her MSW f rom Columbia University School of Social Work and has an extensive background in clinical social work supervision in healthcare settings.

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information and unable to visit their loved ones. We became the liaisons, linking patients and families now separated due to visitation restrictions. It was a united effort by all—administrative, medical, nursing, environmental, respiratory, and ancillary staff— collaborating to meet the uncertain needs of our COVID patients.

Race & Justice

A Call to Action: Social Workers Unite to Stop Asian Hate and Violence by Mang Yip, LCSW “As social workers, each of us has a responsibility to stop and say no to race-based hate in America, not just against Asian Americans, but in all its forms.”

“Remember, remember always that all of us, and you and I especially, we are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” - President Franklin D. Roosevelt “Stop The Asian Hate” has become a popular slogan since the tragic events that ended the lives of eight people—including six Asian women—at the salon shootings in the Atlanta region last month. There has been a well-documented rise in Anti-Asian racism and xenophobia since the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The outbreak—which first began in China—has caused some people to scapegoat Chinese and broader Asian communities. The past year has seen Asians targeted through racist harassment, verbal attacks in public, and physical assaults. According to the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, Anti-Asian hate crime in 16 of America’s largest cities increased by 149% in 2020. The study indicated New York City saw an 833% increase in Anti-Asian hate crimes. 1 Pew Research Center completed a study in June 2020, which reported three-in-ten Asian adults (31%) reported they have been subject to slurs or jokes because of

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their race or ethnicity since the outbreak of the coronavirus. 2 Recently, I saw a YouTube video of an elderly Asian woman who was attacked by a Caucasian male in San Francisco. I was immediately struck by the thought that this could have been my grandmother. After watching the video, I felt angry, disgusted by that man who tried to bully an elderly woman. Luckily, the woman was able to defend herself and the assailant was the one who ended up beaten and handcuffed to a stretcher. My family and I are immigrants from Hong Kong. My parents have made much sacrifice just so we could come to the U.S. for a better opportunity. I had my share of racist experiences as a kid, and even as an adult, have been the target of racerelated comments and discrimination. When former President Donald Trump intentionally and repeatedly called the novel coronavirus the “China Virus,” it made me feel, once again, like an outsider living in an America. As a Chinese American social worker, I find myself in a somewhat unique position. There are not many Asian social workers in America, and certainly even


As a social worker, I have the responsibility to use my voice and my perspective to speak out on behalf of others. I am thankful my membership in NASW has provided me this platform to represent Asians in America—to be part of the voice raising concerns about growing hate against Asians. Enough is enough! We are not invisible, and we will raise our voice loud and clear so everyone can hear us. At the end of the day, repression, discrimination, and judgments of others will not bring unity to America. But joining together in opposition to hatred can.


There is no doubt the coronavirus has impacted almost everyone in some way. An unfortunate impact has been the furthering of racist division in our country. America is still very much a divided country and race relations were problematic, even before the pandemic. However, the coronavirus has amplified the outward expression of hate and racism against immigrant and native-born Asians. As social workers, each of us has a responsibility to stop and say no to race-based hate in America, not just against Asian Americans, but in all its forms.


FACT SHEET: Anti‐Asian Prejudice March 2020 – Center for the

Study of Hate & Extremism. (2020). Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism CSUSB. iles/FACT%20 SHEET-%20Anti-Asian%20Hate%202020%203.2.21.pdf 2

Ruiz, N. G., Horowitz, J. M., & Tamir, C. (2020, July 1). Many Black

and Asian Americans Say They Have Experienced Discrimination Amid the COVID-19 Outbreak. Pew Research Center.

About the Author: Mang Yip, LCSW is a social work supervisor at Rowan Integrated Special Needs and a medical social worker at Inspira. He received his MSW f rom Stockton University in 2010 and is currently in the process of completing the Master’s Degree in Health / Health Care Administration / Management f rom Wilmington University.

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Race & Justice

fewer Chinese American social workers like me. I think there is societal and family pressure for Asians to strive for careers as doctors, lawyers, or engineers, and less so for social work because it is not seen as a highly esteemed or high paying field. However, what I love most about being a social worker is that I am at the forefront in helping my clients and advocating for them to help change their lives for the better. The micro-macro perspective in social work allows me to help others in a way I would be unable to in other professions.

Reproductive Health

Make Your Voice Heard: New Jersey Must Pass the Reproductive Freedom Act by Noelle Tutunjian, MSW


“When we support and create access to the full range of reproductive health care, including birth control, maternity care, and abortion care, we also begin to unravel systemic oppression.”

urrently, there are 19 cases on abortion access just one step away from the 6-3 conservative majority in the Supreme Court. This court is more hostile to abortion access than at any point in the 48 years since Roe v Wade was decided. President Biden winning the White House does nothing to change this fact. Even in New Jersey, where there are relatively few legal restrictions on abortion, access to reproductive health care remains out of reach for many, especially for people of color and low-income communities. Rights mean little if people are unable to access them.

Politicians and the anti-choice movement in other states have been racing to push reproductive health care out of reach. There are 21 states with laws that could be used to restrict the legal status of abortion if Roe were overturned, and New Jersey is NOT among the 14 states with statutory provision laws that protect the right to abortion. 1 That must be corrected. What currently exists in NJ is case law precedent, which is not comprehensive enough. As one of the more progressive states in our nation, New Jersey must lead on this issue! Pending legislation in our state legislature, S3030/A4848—The Reproductive Freedom Act

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(RFA)—will provide a fundamental right to access reproductive health care, such as birth control and pregnancy-related care, including abortion care. It will protect and expand the right to choose in New Jersey to all people who can become pregnant, including transgender and non-binary persons. It also goes further than Roe. Thanks to the Hyde Amendment, which eliminated any federal funding for abortion care, Roe has meant little for poor and underinsured people. The RFA will remove financial barriers through provisions that will require complete coverage of birth control and abortion care, regardless of New Jersey zip code and immigration status. The RFA embodies social work values. The Reproductive Freedom Act prioritizes the health and well-being of everyone who needs reproductive health care. When people can make the decisions that are best for their lives, families thrive, and we build communities where everyone can participate with dignity and equality. When we support and create access to the full range of reproductive health care, including birth control, maternity care, and abortion care, we also begin to unravel systemic oppression. The RFA ensures equity, rights and access and asks New Jersey to lead with compassion.

reproductive rights, equity, and access in New Jersey – now! References: 1

The Guttmacher Institute: Abortion Policy in the Absence of Roe,

April 2021. 2

National Institute of Reproductive Health: Polling on New Jersey

Reproductive Freedom Act, March 2021. blog/2021/04/01/njpoll/

A groundbreaking poll from Change Research and the National Institute of Reproductive Health of 978 New Jersey voters show that “66% of voters agree that New Jersey must address health care inequities – whether stemming from racism, income, zip code, insurance or immigration status – by ensuring everyone can access affordable and highquality health care, including abortion. The survey also showed that “72% of New Jerseyans see the restrictions being passed in other states that push reproductive health care out of reach and agree it ’s time for New Jersey to take action with the RFA to protect access to care.” 2 What can social workers do to help pass the RFA? We need to be LOUDER than the opposition and give our state legislators the support they need to move forward. PLEASE CALL both Speaker Coughlin and Senate President Sweeney and tell them you are a social worker, you support the Reproductive Freedom Act (S 3030/A 4848), and you want them to post the RFA in the Health Committee. Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin: (732) 855-7441 Senate President Stephen Sweeney: (856) 251-9801

About the Author: Noelle Tutunjian, MSW, is a political social worker with a background in electoral and legislative activism. She is co-founder of Stanton Strong Inc, an advocacy nonprof it dedicated to increasing access to reproductive healthcare regardless of zip code, and an active member of Thrive NJ, a statewide coalition that developed and drafted the RFA.

By using our voices together, we can achieve

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Reproductive Health

NASW-NJ has recently become a member of Thrive NJ, a statewide coalition of organizations working collectively to promote sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice. Thrive NJ spent over a year developing the RFA, which was introduced in October 2020. The primary sponsors are Senator Loretta Weinberg and Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle, both consistent champions of women’s rights and health care. Although Governor Murphy has expressed support for the RFA, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin are blocking the bill from getting hearings in the Health Committees in both houses. It ’s an outrage that with 22 Assembly co-sponsors and six Senate co-sponsors, Sweeney and Coughlin won’t even post the bill for hearings in the Health Committees.

School -Based Services

The Transitional Coaches™ Model: A New Model for SchoolBased Mental Health Services by Judyann McCarthy, LCSW “The purpose of this program is to promote a collaborative and integrated approach between the education and healthcare communities to ensure students succeed academically, socially, and emotionally.”


he collateral damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has included the shutdown of much of society, including many schools. Without a doubt, this public health emergency has presented unprecedented challenges to our schools and communities. In June, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) released The Road Back: Restart and Recovery Plan to provide necessary information and considerations for a return to in-person instruction to our school district leaders. Since the provision of these guidelines, districts have made difficult decisions regarding the safe reopening of their schools, based upon local needs assessments, staffing capacities, current enrollment numbers, and the unique physical structures within each school. New Jersey students returned to schools utilizing a mix of operational models including hybrid learning, remote instruction, and full in-person instruction. While districts have approached the challenge of school reopening in a variety of ways, all school communities are facing the same fundamental reality—their students have endured, and continue to endure, significant stress and trauma due to the ongoing pandemic. As schools

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continue to adjust to daily changes related to the public health conditions and mandates, it is critical to support the mental health and resiliency of students and their families. Years of research in education, psychology, physiology, and neuroscience have shown that stress and trauma greatly impact an individual’s ability to work and learn, and this past year has been no exception. Mental health support for children and young adults has adapted to the pandemic by transitioning to digital and virtual interventions. While it is important to continue mental health support by any means possible, there are some relevant challenges that must be considered. First, not all children and young adults have access to technology; if they do, it is often not a private or personal device. Second, many children and young adults reported concerns regarding lack of privacy at home and fear that family members are overhearing their sessions. This is especially problematic for those who do not want their families to know they receive mental health support. Third, many are reporting long wait times to access online support, as well as less thorough appointments due to the increased demand for services. Lastly, many children and young people

After three years of intensive research and development, and now with issues uniquely related to the pandemic firmly in mind, the Camden County Educational Services Commission, in partnership with School-Based Behavioral Health Care Network (SBHSN), has successfully launched SBHSN’s Transitional Coaches™ model for the 2020-2021 school year. This model is specifically designed to improve students’ social, emotional, behavioral, and wellness outcomes. The purpose of this program is to promote a collaborative and integrated approach between the education and healthcare communities to ensure students succeed academically, socially, and emotionally.

We have witnessed how vulnerable the mental health of our students can be, especially when they are isolated from the stability normally provided by their school settings and the ability to interact and socialize with their peers. Moving forward, on-campus mental health access centers within New Jersey ’s schools will help ensure our most at-risk children are not left even further behind and eliminate barriers to care, allowing students to receive therapeutic services that will help them reach their fullest potential. To learn more about the Transitional Coaches Model go to: mentalhealth1

The program brings highly skilled mental health clinicians to schools, after-school programs, and youth summer programs to assist school personnel who interact with youths in school settings. Implementation of this evidence-based program throughout New Jersey’s public, charter, nonpublic, and private schools removes the previously mentioned barriers to accessing quality mental health services by locating services on-site and ensuring privacy during the school day, as well as eliminating long wait times and transportation issues. It is also expected that the Transitional Coaches™ model will increase school personnel’s awareness and knowledge of mental health issues among the students they serve, including traumainformed care that makes students feel safe and secure. Overall, the program will accomplish the following goals: •

Expand behavioral health professionals on school campuses utilizing the NJ Family Care Program.

Create fully functional, self-funded Behavioral Health Access Centers on school campuses.

Destigmatize behavioral health services to promote staff, family, and student acceptance and education of mental health issues.

About the Author: Judyann McCarthy, MSW, LCSW is the current First Vice President of the NASW-NJ Board of Directors and the Mental Health Program Manager at the Camden County Educational Services Commission.

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School -Based Services

reported a lack of clarity as to how they can access support with normal channels interrupted.

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Student Center



he past 18 months provided a challenging backdrop to my MSW studies. The 2020 school year started like no ordinary year. On January 9, I learned my niece had drowned while surfing in Bali. I was in absolute disbelief. My spring semester was supposed to start the 2nd week of January, and I was a complete mess. I was shaking like a leaf when I entered the program director’s office to share what I was experiencing. I told her I was not sure I could get through the semester. Grief and loss had consumed me, and I was overwhelmed. My niece's death was the first loss that hit so close to my heart. She sat with me, listened, and told me to take one day at a time. When the semester began, I shared my situation with my professors, and they were very accommodating and understanding. Then came March and the COVID-19 pandemic. Before I could grasp what was going on around me, classes became virtual, and my internship called and asked me to return my badge. My placement was with older adults, and I understood the residents I worked with were vulnerable to the virus. Still, this was another shock to process. I remember turning in my badge and watching as it was placed in a yellow bag, like the badge itself was infected. And just like that, that was the end of my internship. I was so upset I did not get to say a proper goodbye to the staff or my clients. I am a people person. As such, I struggled with quarantine and isolation. My life was suddenly restricted to four walls. I was still processing the loss of my niece

when COVID cases started rising, and people around me became sick and started dying. The possibility of death hovered close and became real. Even buying groceries became a hazard.

The fear that I might get sick kept me on constant edge. I come from a family of frontline workers, and two to three times, they had been exposed to the virus, putting my life in jeopardy. I struggled to imagine the future—would I graduate, or would I die from this virus? I had no idea what would come next. My parents were worried sick about me. My professors checked on me periodically. My friends struggled to understand, though I guess everyone was in a similar boat to me. There is a saying that goes, "never underestimate the power of

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Student Center

being heard." It is powerful and profound, I learned, as my professors stood by me, listened, and heard me. I learned from them what it meant to be a social worker in the truest sense. I was eagerly anticipating a return to in-person learning for the Fall 2020 semester. Unfortunately, this did not occur. My new internship was virtual with the Department of Veterans Affairs, but I was very skeptical of seeing clients via a telehealth modality. Despite my misgivings, virtual learning and a telehealth internship soon became second nature to me. Life took up a new routine. I began to look forward to living again. Stepping out to get milk, eggs, and bread became exciting and enjoyable and I looked forward to these outings. My graduate social work education was the best part of my journey this past year and a half. School was a game-changer in my life and the field of social work allowed me to be my true self. Today, I am vocal, confident, present, and have advocated for myself throughout my journey. My professors, every single one of them, gave me space when I needed it, were present when I broke down, and helped to build me up, stood by me, and challenged me to do better than yesterday. I am very passionate about the field of social work and believe I have found my calling. The struggles of the past months have left me stronger and more focused. I look forward to graduating so I can go out there and help, heal and guide my clients with the newfound strengths and tools this profession has given me. I am truly blessed and grateful for my MSW experience. I look forward to seeing where my path takes me.

About the Author: Vara Edara is an MSW student at Ramapo College of New Jersey. She anticipates graduating in May 2021.

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took some getting used to; however, as time went on, I began to adapt to this new way of learning.


knew this academic year would be unique; however, the reality has surpassed all expectations. I recall checking my email in early March 2020 and stumbling upon a message informing everyone that for the rest of the semester, we would be transitioning to remote learning. After reading that email, my initial reaction was confusion and a bit of worry for the uncertainty of the world and my college experience. I distinctly remember the first-time I logged into one of my social work classes that was fully remote. It was a time of adjustment and adapting to a new way of learning for me and every student around the world. This new way of attending classes certainly had its challenges. Isolation from my classmates and professors was not easy. The sudden change to remote learning affected my concentration and participation in class lectures. I felt particularly prone to losing focus in those classes that did not have synchronous lectures. In those courses consisting of discussion boards and pre-recorded lectures, my participation was minimal because of the lack of student and professor interaction. This sort of remote education

The 2020 school year was also an interesting time to begin my field education. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine, I was still able to attend my internship at the YMCA Newark in person. I feel truly fortunate I was able to obtain my field education experience in person, as opposed to remotely. This face-to-face connection allowed me to absorb as much knowledge, insight, and social work skills as possible from my field instructor. Inperson internship also allowed me to master client engagement while social distancing and following the agency’s COVID-19 guidelines. I was fortunate to also be involved in research and policy analysis during this ever-changing socioeconomic climate. I think completing my field practicum during such uncertain times has helped prepare me for the often unpredictable “real world” of social work. I have learned to be flexible in my expectations and adjust quickly to agency demands. My new flexibility was tested when one day last semester, my field instructor informed us that all interns had to self-quarantine for fourteen days due to someone at the agency contracting COVID-19. I felt confused and worried for the uncertainty of my field experience and my ability to meet my school’s requirements for field practicum hours and

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Student Center


Student Center assignments. Having to resume my field placement remotely from home was an adjustment, but also an opportunity to improve my coping skills, such as prayer, breathing exercises, and meditation. Peer support from my fellow classmates was invaluable in coping with the stress of the unknown, minimizing my fears, and assuring me I was not alone in this experience. Cultural considerations also came into play this past year. As a Latinx male, quarantining during the pandemic was a major challenge. Hispanic culture is well known for affection—hugging, gentle touches, and hand shaking is a norm. It felt weird and unnatural being unable to hug or shake someone’s hand to greet them. While quarantine prevented me from interacting with my extended family and friends, it did create strong ties between my immediate family. As the oldest son in a Latinx family, I was expected to assist my younger siblings with their homework assignments on top of many other responsibilities. Many people said spending too much time together caused family discord; however, I was happy to assist my younger sibling with remote learning and problem solving. Spending all our time together, whether studying, watching movies, or eating meals together, brought us closer as a family. It gave us time to get to know and appreciate each other more than ever.

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While this remote school year was certainly an adjustment period for me and the rest of our society, it has also impacted my plans for the future. Prior to remote learning, I was uncertain whether I would ever attend graduate school. However, after gaining so much experience in my field practicum and educating myself on policies and current social issues, I developed a strong desire to pursue a Master’s Degree in Social Work. So, the pandemic was not just trying, it was also transformative. When I look back on this difficult school year, I see my resilience—and the resilience of my fellow students and family members— has been the true silver lining.

About the Author: Peter Espinoza is a Senior at Rutgers University in Newark. He anticipates graduating with his BSW this May. His area of focus is child welfare and would like to work with children and families in the future.

Student Center



he importance of macro-based Social Work cannot be understated in the times we live in. Macro social work can include, but is not limited to, advocacy & policy work which, for the most part, entails direct outreach to legislators at the state and federal levels and can include advocating through emails and phone calls on behalf of specific legislation. While advocacy and outreach are key aptitudes, we must also remember the importance of being able to read and interpret legislation, understanding the impact those pieces of legislation could have on social workers, social work clients, and any intersecting profession, person, and system. Legislation being considered by our elected officials impacts the work we do—whether it’s as students or professionals—and usually has a direct impact on the people you serve, regardless of your area of social work practice. For instance, one important bill we have been reviewing during our internships that could affect Social Work as a profession is H.R.2035, which does

not yet have a title other than to state its purpose: “To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to improve access to mental health services under the Medicare program.” This bill, which mirrors a bill introduced during the 116 th Congress, addresses the scheduled fee payment made to Social Workers who are providing care to clients enrolled in Medicare. The bill addresses many areas, but one key component that must be emphasized—for the good of our clients as well as our profession—is for Clinical Social Workers to be reimbursed by Medicare at the same level as Psychologists for the same services provided. Correcting this pay discrepancy will encourage social workers to remain as Medicare providers, or to become Medicare providers if they are not already, and would help ensure availability of providers and continuity of care for Medicare recipients. What we must be sure to remember is that Social Work is not just providing counseling and clinical services. We must also be actively engaged with the policy issues that impact our profession and the clients we serve. This includes work in social policy, child welfare policy, forensic social work, community organizing,

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Student Center

and more. Our profession connects people with and helps them to navigate systems—social systems, family systems, economic systems, global systems. Our work extends beyond one-on-one interactions and considers how our clients function within the systems that impact their lives. One way to enhance your macro and policy skills is to engage with NASW as a student. During NASWNJ's Annual Legislative Education and Advocacy Day (also known as LEAD), we interns gave a presentation on the legislative process—how a bill becomes a law. This is vital information for students and new social workers. We also worked with NASW-NJ staff to develop an extensive Advocacy Toolkit that showcases many resources and ways students and young professionals can get involved in macro level change. The Toolkit is available on the NASW-NJ website along with recordings of the LEAD 2021 presentations for those who were unable to attend. These are a great resource for students to check out. Lastly, it’s important to know who your elected officials are and how to contact them. The New Jersey legislature is comprised of 120 members elected from 40 legislative districts. The General Assembly houses 80 members, while the State Senate houses the remaining 40. You can look up who your state legislators are on the NJ Legislature website. Another great resource to help you find your federal, state, and local elected officials is elected-officials. We hope this article has inspired you to learn more about macro social work, policy, and advocacy. To be the best social workers—the best change agents—we can be, we need to be prepared to act at both the micro and macro levels. The combination of those two is where change is achieved.

About the Authors: John “Jack” Serzan is a Junior in the BSW program at Seton Hall University. Denise Arias Rodriguez is a Senior pursuing her B.A. in Social Work at Rutgers UniversityNewark.

36 | NJFOCUS • May 2021

Student Center



hat can I say about 2020 and 2021 that hasn’t been said already? What a time to be a social worker! What a time to be a social work student! Our heavy social and political climate has swiftly given rise to a new generation of Social Work students who are ready to complete their educations and tackle the role of professional social worker. As an intern with NASW-NJ, I’ve seen how the Chapter can assist students in achieving their goals. Connecting students from around the state with influential leaders in the social work field—as we did in last month’s inaugural NASWNJ Social Work Student Summit—not only demonstrates to students the depth and breadth of our community but allows them to begin to envision the transition from social work student to social work professional. The 2021 Student Summit, co-sponsored by Ramapo College, was designed to help launch students on a path to success. The strong panel of guest speakers certainly delivered—covering topics from developing your professional identity, to self-branding and marketing, to preparing for salary negotiations. Dr. Widian Nicola, DSW, LCSW, a professor at Seton Hall University and the incoming President of the NJ Chapter, opened the Summit with a discussion on Transitioning from Student to Practitioner. She offered four principals to help attendees find joy in their vocation: Clarify your professional identity; Engage with your profession and engage with your world; Galvanize others as you lead, but lead as you galvanize; and lastly, Evolve. The concept of “evolving” set the tone for the rest of the day, as subsequent speakers helped students recognize their passion for change and hunger to develop as leaders. “It is not about your IQ but about your EQ (emotional intelligence),” said Nkechi Okoli, MSW, LSW, current President of NASW-NJ. Nkechi outlined several skills/behaviors/thought patterns that contribute to the development and success of a Social Worker. These include: your self-awareness (self-confidence), social awareness (empathy), self-management (self-control), and social skills (influence). These skills are not taught and learned in a quick session or during classes, but rather develop over time through practice and intention. They represent areas where

social work students should strive to develop themselves to further their career aspirations. We also heard from Dr. Dawn Apgar, former chair of the New Jersey Board of Social Work Examiners, on the social work licensing process in New Jersey. Licensure is a major step for newly graduating social workers. NASW-NJ is hosting a follow-up session on May 10, “Social Work Licensing for Students” for those who may have missed the summit or would like more information (register here). The thought of taking a licensing exam can be overwhelming for some and seem like a barrier to work in the field. However, if you choose to work in an area where licensure is required, eventually, you’ll have to take the exam. NASW-NJ offers a Licensing Exam Institute for individuals preparing for the LSW and LCSW Exams. The next session is on June 13—register here! One final takeaway from the Student Summit: whether your leanings are towards micro or macro social work, you’ll be developing skills that must be continuously sharpened. It takes time to master these skills—so don’t get discouraged if you struggle or feel lost at times. Continue to learn and be inspired by your world and the leaders around you. And in all you do, do not diminish yourself. KNOW YOUR WORTH—as an individual, as a community member, and as a social worker. You are essential!

About the Author: Adriana Marquez is proudly Latinx and a first generation BSW graduate. She is currently pursuing her MSW at Seton Hall University and anticipates graduating in August 2021. After graduation, she hopes to serve low-income communities through the implementation of social service programs in schools and neighborhoods.

NJFOCUS • May 2021 | 37

Are you a social work student in either a BSW or MSW program? Did you know that student members have an exclusive opportunity to apply for the Harriet Bloomfield Scholarship? You do—read on to learn


more about this exclusive opportunity

ABOUT THE SCHOLARSHIP The Harriet Bloomfield Memorial Scholarship Fund is dedicated to the memory of Social Worker Harriet Bloomfield. Harriet was a charter member of NASW. She worked for the Elizabeth Board of Education before retiring in 1984. She served as director of social services at Bonnie Brae Farm for Boys, Millington from 1956 to 1960 and was with DYFS from 1944 to 1956. She taught at Kean College and Rutgers University and organized the Center for Infant Development and teen-parent program in conjunction with the Rutgers Graduate School of Social Work and the Elizabeth Board of Education. Harriet served the New Jersey Chapter in a variety of positions. She was first vice-president, chair of the PACE committee, a delegate to the Delegate Assembly and a member of the annual conference committee. In 1989 the chapter honored her as Social Worker of the Year. She also served on the board of Jewish Family Services of Central New Jersey, the Mayor’s Advisory Committee for Community Development Funds in Elizabeth and the Clark Juvenile Conference Committee. Each year, up to three scholarships will be awarded in honor of the legacy that Harriet built. Qualifications: Be an NASW-NJ member in good standing (you’ll be required to submit your membership number in the application) Enrolled in an accredited BSW or MSW program. Complete the online application, including short essay Provide copy of transcript

APPLY NOW 38 | NJFOCUS • May 2021

Deadline: Applications must be submitted by May 14, 2021

NASW-NJ STUDENT PROGRAM Academic Year 2020- 2021 NASW-NJ is committed to providing the next generation of social workers with the information, tools, opportunities and support needed to step forward into a rewarding and challenging career. These resources include volunteer opportunities, leadership opportunities, networking events, studentfocused activities and more.

Specific Activities for 2021 include: Social Work Student Leadership Council Free attendance at NASW-NJ webinars (which may count towards field hours) Free attendance at 2021 NASW-NJ Virtual Annual Conference (March 7, 2021) Free attendance at Legislative, Education, Advocacy Day (LEAD) (March 8, 2021) Social Work Students Summit, topics to include: o Social Work Professional Identity o Mentorship/NASW/Professional community connection o The Intersection of Micro and Macro Practice o Advocacy and social justice via clinical insight o Negotiation skills (Jobs and Salaries) Mentoring Program (in development) Networking Program (in development) Check out the full calendar on the next page. Registration for events is available here: Additional programs will be added. Non-members pay a nominal fee to attend. (Programs may be eligible for Field Education hours – check with your Field Director) NJFOCUS • May 2021 | 39

Calendar of Events Topic


Social Work Licensing for Students

May 10, 4:00-5:30pm Register

Cultural Humility: Working with the ELGBTQ+ Community (Morris Unit Event)

May 11th, 6:00-7:30pm Register

Why EMDR: Understanding the Process (Bergen/Passaic Unit Event)

May 11th, 7:00-9:00pm Register

Rethinking Reentry: COVID-19, Women, Grief and Loss

May 12, 6:00pm-8:00pm Register

Advancing Global Mental Health through Local Initiatives (Middlesex Unit Event) Using Brain spotting to work with Shame and the Inner Critic Third Thursdays: Monthly Virtual Chat with the Executive Director (1.5 CEU Webinar) Theorizing and Coping with Grief after the losses of COVID-19, Racism and Our Way of Life (Monmouth/ Ocean Unit Event)

May 19, 12:00 PM - 1:15 PM Register May 20th, 6:00pm-8:00pm Register May 20th, 1:00pm – 2:00pm Register May 26th, 12:00pm – 1:30pm Register

Brain Injury and it's Effects on the Individual and Family System

June 8th, 6:00pm – 8:00pm Register

Understanding the Importance of Culturally Competent Mental Health Services and Barriers Faced by Diverse Communities

June 9th, 6:00pm – 8:00pm Register

Prescription Opioid Abuse and Dependence in New Jersey

June 15, : 2:00pm-3:00pm Register

Third Thursdays: Monthly Virtual Chat with the Executive Director

June 17, 1:00pm – 2:00pm Register

Check: for updates. Questions? Contact Helen French at or 732-993-7311

NA S W - N J P re s en t s th e So cial W o rk

LICENSURE EXAM INSTITUTE BE PREPARED. Learn key strategies to help you pass the LSW & LCSW exams + regulatory tips & tools.






utgers School of Social Work has proudly partnered with NASW-NJ for decades, providing valuable resources and unbeatable opportunities for students as they progress on their journey in school and beyond. Each year, Rutgers School of Social Work sponsors NASW-NJ’s Legislative Education & Advocacy Day (LEAD), an event bringing together hundreds of social work students and professionals from across the state to the capital of Trenton. LEAD is designed to further social workers’ knowledge of the legislative process, grassroots advocacy, and major current statewide policy initiatives. Students hear from an array of passionate speakers, including elected officials, community organizers, and advocates, about some of the most pressing problems facing society today. Rutgers School of Social Work recognizes that now, more than ever, it’s important for social workers to have a seat at the table on discussions around policy and advocacy. Social workers can do so much in addition to clinical practice. Having a grounding in macro social work in addition to clinical social work allows students to do important work like developing programs and policies that can help greater numbers of people. They can craft policies and manage programs on a broad scale and enhance the well-being of many vulnerable populations. And understanding policy is essential to becoming leaders of organizations, managing the many challenges presented in the world of human services.

After students graduate from Rutgers School of Social Work, and with their knowledge of macro social work, they go on to serve in a variety of leadership levels in both the public and private sector in jobs that range from fighting homelessness to supporting environmental justice. They can also enhance their clinical efforts with and on behalf of their clients by engaging in electoral politics and public policy discussion. At Rutgers School of Social Work, our alumni become professionals who create and manage agencies to deliver high-quality and easily accessible services effectively. Rutgers School of Social Work is here to support students along their journey to a career in social work. As one of the largest, highest regarded, and most diverse schools of social work in the country, we can help advance you to where you want to be in your career. Our Management and Policy specialization is available to most MSW students and is designed to build and enhance knowledge, skills, and competencies of current and future leaders of nonprofit and public service organizations. We also offer a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree with a social work major, MSW degree with a clinical specialization, DSW, Ph.D. and continuing education programs at each of Rutgers’ three campuses in New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden. Learn more about Rutgers School of Social Work’s programs at

NJFOCUS • May 2021 | 41

Members Only Perks


ith over 6,500 members in our New Jersey family, you are part of a larger family of social workers, a network of friends and colleagues who share your commitment to the profession and strengthening our community. While the chapter has many opportunities to connect on a broader level—from educational programs to advocacy events, there are also many great ways for you to connect with your colleagues locally or on a specific area of interest. Read on to learn some ways in which you as a member can build your connections, network and grow in smaller, more intimate spaces—and virtually!

42 | NJFOCUS • May 2021


MEET THE NASW-NJ UNION UNIT! by Hannah Korn-Heilner, MSW


eginning my term as the NASW-NJ Union Unit Leader during the middle of a global pandemic seemed daunting at first! I was nervous about hosting virtual meetings where I did not know the participants, and did not know who, if anyone, would attend! One thing I underestimated was the power of relationships. Although many people are feeling Zoom-ed out after a year of pandemic, relationships are the foundation of our profession. I think many social workers have missed being able to connect with each other during the past year. One routine I’ve started is to begin our meetings with a round of introductions. At first it felt awkward! I was worried some people would not want to share or feel it was a waste of time. However, I have been surprised at how such a simple routine can build a feeling of community. Even more so, I think the introductions help people feel heard and seen. We have had new students participate, recent graduates, retired social workers, and new members attending their first NASW meeting! Each person is warmly welcomed and we congratulate those

with recent accomplishments! Being able to connect with so many new social workers has reenergized me in the midst of this pandemic and I hope it has done the same for our members. Of course, introductions are just the beginning. I also needed to find topics and presenters who were engaging and offered new information for members. So, we sent out a survey in September to find out what topics our Unit members were interested in. One of the biggest responses we received was for more information about racism and social justice. While NASW-NJ has done an incredible job providing a slew of programming addressing racism in their Race, Responsibility, and Reconciliation series, I was excited to see that members still wanted to learn more. I did some research on the Instagram accounts of Black Lives Matter groups in New Jersey. I learned they were doing really great work focused on mutual aid—a process where a community comes together to support one another. This approach seemed to align with social work values, and I thought it might be new information social workers would want to learn about. With some

NJFOCUS • May 2021 | 43

brainstorming and a few emails, I was able to get in contact with a representative from the Black Lives Matter movement in New Jersey to do a presentation for our Unit. The presentation was a huge hit! We had many members join our meeting who had never attended a Unit event before. Attendees learned about the work the Black Lives Matter movement is doing in New Jersey. The media usually reports on more public BLM events like protests, however BLM organizers in New Jersey are feeding the homeless with community fridges, planting community gardens, supporting hunger strikes at ICE detention centers, and hosting events to bring the community together. Attendees also learned about the history of mutual aid dating back to the Black Panther Party and how the movement had evolved into Black Lives Matter. I was also excited to be able to use my platform as Unit Chair to share with members about the work I do! In April, for the Week of the Young Child, I presented about my own work at Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ). We are a nonprofit organization that advocates for better laws, policies, and programs for children and their families. I sit on our early childhood team, focused on issues affecting our youngest children in the state—babies! We focus on a number of issues from childcare to home visitation, and maternal health. I co-lead a workgroup focused on expanding mental health services for babies and their families in New Jersey. Many social workers do not know about infant mental health, so I was excited to share this work with our members! Are you interested in sharing your work or skills with other social workers? I’m always looking for new presenters! Even if you have never presented before, this is a great platform to start practicing your skills! If you are interested in presenting, you can contact me at hrk29@scarletmail.! I look forward to continuing to provide exciting programming for the Union Unit for the remainder of my term! See you at our next event!

About the Author: Hannah Korn-Heilner, MSW is a macro social worker and passionate advocate. She works as the Policy and Outreach Associate for the nonprof it organization, Advocates for Children of New Jersey. She obtained her Master of Social Work with a concentration in Management and Policy from Rutgers University and previously worked in youth development in Paterson, NJ.

44 | NJFOCUS • May 2021


Mother's Day Thoughts BE IN G A W O R KI NG MOTH E R D U RI N G A G LOBA L PA N DE M I C by Erica Goldblatt Hyatt, DSW, LCSW, MBE

This Mother’s Day, in lieu of flowers, give her what she really wants: acknowledgement that the Coronavirus has reinforced the nature and depreciating value of gendered work in Western Society, and that the “mental load” of it is smothering us (people who identify as) mothers. At the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing societal shutdown, I was preparing to go up for promotion. As core faculty at a Research 1 institution, this meant filling out a seemingly endless administrative form detailing my academic life and achievements to-date: publications, presentations, administrative positions, contributions to the profession, clinical appointments, and more. Now, a year later, I wish there had been a space for me to list the unpaid work I took on in my family’s life and household that was often silent, automatic, unrecognized, and definitely not compensated: running my household (hopefully, not into the ground). Let me be real. None of my fellow mothers I have heard from have declared: “Wow, the Coronavirus has really helped me prioritize my work, establish a great work-life balance, and feel good about my value and contributions as a parent and employee.” We all are trying our best and feeling like failures across the home and work divide—which is now purely mental, since the physical settings are one in the same for most of us. And lest we conclude the mental load has affected only mothers working paid jobs, fear not: full-time, stay

at home moms are also feeling the strain of extra time monitoring kids’ school from home on top of family and household needs without reprieve. No matter what nature of work a mother is engaged in, the gendered nature of what we do—and the mental load of it all—is repeatedly reinforced without solutions. For those who are new to this, here are some quick (and, I find, validating) definitions: “gendered work” refers to processes that reinforce masculine and feminine roles and ultimately reflect advantage/disadvantage, class, racialization, socioeconomic context, and other stratified and problematic concepts that keep men and women doing what they do in society.1 Furthermore, the mental load is a burden that falls upon the primary manager of a household. This burden more frequently falls upon mothers, who “most often manage, plan, anticipate, and organize both routine and unexpected household tasks and family events, as well as support the daily wellbeing of family members.” 2 Sound familiar? As a white, employed, married, mother of four healthy children, I write this from a position of privilege, with the acknowledgment that my family was largely protected

NJFOCUS • May 2021 | 45


from many impacts of the pandemic. Yet we still struggled as my regularly well-adjusted kids grappled with their new normal and I added supportive services like counseling and occupational therapy to their lives (because I’m a social worker and can case manage my kids!). Yet, if I have been nearly drowning from the stress of the mental load in 2021, what does it look like for parents who don’t have my resources? (People who identify as) women who have swapped paid work to take care of their kids full time, parents who don’t have the luxury of doing so and can’t tend to their kids’ needs, single parents, families in under-resourced areas…the list goes on. 3 As social workers, this is where, whether affected by the mental load or not, it is our duty to recognize the increasing burden of the pandemic on parents who need our help.

References 2F978-94-007-0753-5_1138






How then can we smash the patriarchy this Mother’s Day? A few ideas. Social workers must do better: • Advocating for equal pay across gender divides, being mindful and inclusive of transgender individuals who may fall into “male” or “female” work categories; • Considering providing pro-bono, sliding fee, accessible (telehealth?) services for primary caregivers who have trouble accessing therapy during non-pandemic times; • Supporting legislation that addresses our nation’s “caregiving crisis” and supports tax credits, subsidies, and lengthier paid leave for parents who need it; 4 and • While we’re at it, finally instituting federal support for leave after baby loss like they have in New Zealand? 5 The United States does a poor job acknowledging the losses, whether due to death, lifespan development, employment changes, or others, that impact parenting in both tangible and abstract ways. The bottom line: If we celebrated (people who identify as) women all year round with structural, macro-based changes, maybe we all wouldn’t need that one day of massage and pedicure our spouses think will rejuvenate us for the other 364 days.

46 | NJFOCUS • May 2021

About the Author: Dr. Erica Goldblatt Hyatt is an administrator, clinician, and author with nearly 15 years' worth of experience in the f ield of death, dying and bereavement. She is Associate Teaching Professor and Assistant Director of the DSW Program at Rutgers University School of Social Work.

We've welcomed over 400 new NASW members to our Chapter since the start of 2021. Thanks to all of you, NASW-NJ has grown to become the second largest NASW Chapter in the country! The following social workers became members between January 1 - April 15, 2021. Welcome aboard!!

ATLANTIC/CAPE MAY/CUMBERLAND UNIT Nadia Nikia Emily Sandra Ebony Stephanie Emily Mary Stephanie Heather Madison Jerome Winter Victoria Tracey David Nicole Ashly Michael Laura April Migdalia Aileen Tiffany

Albino Bailey Bautista Martinez Brown Buckmon Carangi Cunningham Duncan Engle English Gragg Grant Harmon Johnson Johnson Lunsford Mayer Oquendo Ortiz Quinones Rolls Rosario Seda Tolbert

BERGEN/PASSAIC UNIT Chloe Christina Cecilia Kare Amanda Rachel Dvora Julie Ashley Katie

Adel Athanasatos Baez Bennett Bercovici Berman Brandstatter Bravo Bukovsky Burkert

Fortunata Rodrigo Stephanie Ailyn Delia Vara Laurie Elyannyery Charles Leonardo Colleen Ana Nakeisha Evelyn Juana Lauren Ivana Leah Korin Carol Daniela Julia Shaquria Rayan Susan Oliver Megan Natividad Yeddi Marinelly Shannon Melissa Alyssa Paula Darian Julienne Alanna

Campbell Cardenas Cedeno Costa-Minch Drake Edara Feingold Germoso Giraldo Gonzalez Habick Hernandez Hills Immitt Inurritegui Kahn Kalezic Klein Langton Lauria Lemus-Martinez LiPuma Love Mashal Moromisato Nicholson Ocampo Padierna Park Perez Philpott Ramirez Reiner Rubenacker Schloss Shields Shinske

Erin Tara Melissa Joelle Rachel Casey Jennifer Lilia Megan Robert Harry Kwadwo Ghalia Lori

Smith Spear Sullivan Swistak Taylor Trattner Valdivia Vasquez Garcera Villone Wisniefski Wollenberg Yeboah Zelfo Zerrusen

CAMDEN/GLOUCESTER/SALEM UNIT Ayo Jeanne Alicia Allison Tricia Shalisha Haleigh Rachael Jason Dorotea Jennifer Amanda Matthew Jill Katherine Tamar Robin Theresa Victoria Marcus

Abbi Beaupre Burns Chiappisi Colon-Santiago Cook DiMuzio-Bottcher Donnelly Emge Enriquez Fleisher Garrett Grimes Gromen Halpin Hampton Jefferson Johnson Kalbacher Kennedy

NJFOCUS • May 2021 | 47


Welcome new members!


CAMDEN/GLOUCESTER/ SALEM UNIT (CONT.) Carin Angela Lindsay Theresa Matthew Kristen Bridget Andrea Kevin Kenneth Alyssa Renee Sarah Fatemah Shannan Rachel Shannon Onre' Julia

Lehman Lindner Marx Maurer McCormick McFadden Muldoon Nasuti Natali Ovitz Perry Roache Roche Sedighi Shannon Sklar Taylor Tilghman Tursi

ESSEX UNIT Flonnie Moshood Leann Charisse Tangula Talisha Elaine Carmen Julie Melissa Denese Kerline Kristine Gabrielle Erin Jessica Amos Juliet Giulia Madeline Edmund Tammie Sharlene Ruby Karlie Olivia Markie Deanna Windy Claudia Puja Josie Jennifer

Anderson Animasahun Baker-Martin Ballester Brown Brown Carter Cortez DeCheser Dones Duran Fils-Amie Foley Gross Hertrich Innocent Kamil LeBien Licitra Liriano Lopez Maitlin Martin Mehta Miscia Monahan Moore Moschella Ortega Palma Parikh Pearlman Prost

48 | NJFOCUS • May 2021

MIDDLESEX UNIT Margarita Nicole Sharon Kelli Tricia Zebia

Rivas Rivera rodriguez Rotondo Stern Weh-Braddy

HUDSON UNIT Denisse Samantha Naromie Peter Candy Kathryn Dora Orbelina Jonathan Nicole Shanette Ashley Nathaly Beatriz

Calderon Callaghan Charles Espinoza Garcia Harter Jones Mendoza Pinto Ranero Samuels Tarquini Vera Villatoro

Jackie Renetta Katrina Allison Parnika Emily Dayna Catherine Caroline Abigail Bryanna Diane Jessica Nicole Tasha Courtney Robert Kwame Kaylan Kaitlin Chandni Tanya Luke Elizabeth Lena

Abdou Aikens Blaise-Schlossberg Brachmann Celly Curnal Damico D'Angelo Faraone Gulyas Harvie Heiser Iovine Kemprowski Kozak Lamourt Magyar Mensah Michas Onorato Patel Reid Roche Schreiber Suarez-Angelino

MERCER/BURLINGTON UNIT Becca Emily Shaindy Jacqueline Kathleen Hailee Corey Reginald Michelle Lindsay Amy Cliff Vera Ayesha Stephen Patricia Ny'elle Gerald Erin Maggie Danelle Juliska Joshua Moira Brandee Shavon Elizabeth Linda Sarah Lauren

Adlai-Gail Birkenstamm Black Carter Carter Collier DeSilva-Brown Dorsey Glover Gonzalez Hiraldo Jones Jordan Joseph Longley Mangan Mcmillon Mingin Noone Rafferty Rambus Ravenell Rinehimer Roberts Sherrer Singleton Thel Timmins-Tuckerman Valerio Wightman

MONMOUTH/OCEAN UNIT Rebekah Yehoshua Pamela Moira Ashley Kaitlyn Jennifer Kayla Mary Kayla Alexandra Gittle Sarah Kyrstin Maura Jessica Kayli Gerard Liliana Cleonese Tessa Sarah Jennifer John Katlin Tara Sean

Allocco Anteby Bailey Barocas Bene Borghesi Budd Caivano Campbell Candiloro Charletta Chase Chodnicki Cirulli Clark Clark Cruz Cureton Daneman Dasent-Green DeGennaro DeSantis Dietrich Durrenberger Ecke Engelhardt Ertle

Ewing Farkas Feldman Fernandez Fisher Fitzgerald Gauer Goganzer Guilbert Haddad Hickman Hill Horne Jackson Kennedy Kieffer Kim Kostenblatt Kranczer Lenhart Lin Logan Maulshagen McGowan Meola Mitchell Nass Moschella Okpo Oliveira Palazzo Patel Pepi Perry Raess Richardson Robinson Rosenberg Ruitenberg Sanchez Sapir Scano Scheffler Schenk Siegel Sigler Sininsky Sochet Stiff Thorne Trujillo Tuzio Vaughn Weiland Werthmuller

Gina White Rebecca Zambrano Alexia Zeeman

MORRIS UNIT Nicole Amy Reanna Jennifer Gabrielle Julia Gia Richard Nadica Shirell Dionne Katie Anna Emily Patricia Gessica Ferdinando Alexander Karen

Baez Brunswick Carcano Clarke Ferrara Gray Groeling Hahn Hegedus Holmes James Kerrigan Klisiewcz Leszau Noel Opipari Palumbo Rodriguez Scott

SOMERSET/HUNTERDON UNIT Sarah Adrienne Kelsey Amanda Molly Florence Jamie Amanda Amanda Nicholas Stefanie Christina Allyson Kara Mariam Patricia Elyse Megan Marleina

Bergenfield Buchanan Christ DeCanio Farrell Francis Goracy Hando Heimann Marcantuono Marky Pacheco Parks Meyer Rogers Salih Schmall Steinberg Sullivan Ubel

SUSSEX/WARREN UNIT Brooke Amanda Brandon Melanie

Costanzo Gannon Hickey Lewis

Christina Mayra Kaylynn Maria Cecilia Jamie Claridilia Allison

May Naula Pierce Rodas Sanders Spagnuolo Viera Wiggins

UNION UNIT Lilianne Michelle Jennifer Colleen Eboni Lisa Mary Veronica Ana Norma Melissa Ursula Vanessa Leslie Yamilec Brianna Julia Ashley Gerard Haley Kathryn Danielle Molly Tamar Wendy Ebony

Amaral Beltran Donato Ferenchak Foushee Freidenrich Glynos Guardado Heredia Deleon Jumbo Lanman Liebowitz-Johnson Montero Nicholson Pardo Patterson Portnof Robinson Rokosz Savva Schauer Shanskhalil Sheil Sullivan Whitbred Williams

Thanks for Joining!

Michele Jaimie Stephanie Julia Sonya Cassia Cecil Allyson Megan Jessica Adelle Kimberly Stacy Shaunsey Alison Melissa Andrew Jessica Chava Kerry Victoria Ashley Robin Tara Gabriella Tahanie Elizabeth Michael Barbara Samantha Kaitlyn Margarita Sydney Elissa Ava Alyson Brianne Evelyn Samantha Nechama Linda Jessica Maria Ana Kamaria Anne Ryan Whitney Julia Joshua Aisha Gracie Nicolette Michelle

NJFOCUS • May 2021 | 49




Upcoming Free Member Events Friday, May 7 12:00pm - 1:00pm Monday, May 10 4:00pm - 5:30pm Tuesday, May 11 12:00pm - 1:00pm Tuesday, May 11 6:00pm - 7:30pm Tuesday, May 11 7:00pm - 9:00pm

The Shared Experience of Grief and Trauma in Communities of Color Register Social Work Licensing For Students Register Online Scams and Internet Safety Register Cultural Humility: Working with the LGBTQ+ Community (Morris Unit Event) Register Why EMDR: Understanding the Process (Bergen/Passaic Unit Event) Register

Thursday, May 13 10:00am - 11:00am Thursday, May 13 2:00pm - 3:00pm Thursday, May 20 1:00pm - 2:00pm Wednesday, May 26 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Essex Private Practice Meeting Register Bergen Passaic Private Practice Meeting Register Third Thursdays: Monthly Virtual Chat with the Executive Director Register (1.5 Free CEU) Theorizing and Coping with Grief after the losses of COVID-19, Racism and Our Way of Life (Monmouth/Ocean Unit Event) Register

Wednesday, June 16 6:00pm - 7:00pm 50 | NJFOCUS • May 2021

Criminal Justice and Corrections Social Work Shared Interest Group Register

Share your Interests. Share your Voice.

NASW-NJ SHARED INTEREST GROUPS The beauty of our profession is that it is diverse. From academia to private practice, macro social work to healthcare, there is no area that social work does not touch in some way. While we often come together in larger groups—sharing our different perspectives and from different places—sometimes its good to find your smaller group of “people”—social workers with shared interests or areas of practice. These smaller places are a great place to discuss unique challenges and needs in the field, as well as brainstorm on programs and help shape specific learning events that the Chapter hosts.

Over the last several months our Chapter has expanded our Shared Interest Groups to meet your needs—giving you more opportunities to connect and collaborate. These dedicated spaces meet on various schedules (virtually for now) and are busy sharing best practices in school social work, healthcare, and more. We invite you to check out the Shared Interest Groups and join a conversation or program. You can sign up for Shared Interest Group information here.

NJFOCUS • May 2021 | 51




ocial workers play an integral role in our communities, connecting our friends, neighbors and families to critical information, resources, and tools they need to thrive. As an Association, our primary focus is always to support you—our community of professionals—giving you tools and resources to advance your work and advocating on your behalf. We often ask what else we can do—what more do you need? You have often responded that you would like resources for the community—and also opportunities to give back.

Last March, NASW-NJ launched our Community Conversation series. These non-CEU discussions are geared toward the broader community, featuring resources for your friends, families, and even organizations. The programs are one -hour virtual conversations with organizational leaders and social workers on a variety of pressing topics including racism, violence prevention, mental illness, the public welfare, and more. Our Community Conversations have been viewed thousands of times live and archived on-demand. Many social workers share them with their clients, family, and friends as well.


Catch up with previous Community Conversations: VIDEOS ON-DEMAND

More Community Conversations and other free offerings can be found on the NASW-NJ YouTube page. 52 | NJFOCUS •May 2021


NJFOCUS • May 2021 | 53

Upcoming CE Programs

2021 Rethinking Reentry: COVID-19, Women, Grief & Loss May 12, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM 2 Clinical CEUs Register

Advance Care Planning Certificate June 11, 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM 10 CEUs (9 Clinical; 1 Social/Cultural) Register

Using Brainspotting to Work with Shame and the Inner Critic May 20, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM 2 Clinical CEUs Register

Prescription Opioid Misuse and Dependence in New Jersey June 15, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM 1 General Credit Register

Brain Injury and it's Effects on the Individual and Family System June 08, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM 2 Clinical CEUs Register

Budgets and Finances for Non-Profits July 13, 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM 2 General CEUs Register

Understanding the Importance of Culturally Competent Mental Health Services and Barriers Faced by Diverse Communities June 09, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM 2 Clinical CEUs Register


Recognized by the NJ State Board of Social Work Examiners as an approving entity for social work CEUs in 54 the | NJFOCUS • May State of NJ.

Grant Management for Non-Profits August 4, 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM 2 General CEUs Register Bundle and Save! Buy Budgets and Finances for Non-Profits and Grants Management for Non-Profits for a Discount July 13, 5:00 PM & August 04, 7:00 PM 4 General CEUs Register for the Bundle

Add CE credits to your professional development course.

To learn more & apply visit: Course-Approval


Share your expertise and practice wisdom. NASW-NJ is seeking social workers who are interested in presenting Continuing Education programs, leading Community Conversations, and developing trainings and symposiums in various areas of social work practice. You must be a current member of NASW in good standing.

If you're interested in showcasing your knowledge and helping to enhance the skills of your fellow social workers, email Helen French at

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Become a Clinical Supervisor Next course dates are: June 21 (sold out) August 05 October TBA






Next Course June 11

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Gear for social workers, designed by social workers. Live the values, loudly.



Digital delivery

Frequency: 1 issue

Full-color, camera-ready image sent to NASW-NJ via electronic upload

Full page (no bleed): $1000

Advertorial: (story ad w/ image or logo) $1500

1/2 page: $700

1/3 page: $450

1/6 page: $300

Inside back cover: $2000

Back cover—limited availability, call for details

CONTACT:, call 732-296-8070, or visit for more information.

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Apply for the Harriet Bloomfield scholarship. An exclusive opportunity for NASW-NJ student members See page 38 inside for more information. 60 | NJFOCUS •May 2021