Dr. Annahita Ball, Dr. Elizabeth Bowen, and Dr. Annette Semanchin-Jones

Cross-Systems Collaboration: Examining the Perspectives and Experiences of Vulnerable Youth and Service Providers

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“Certainly, there is a lot of work that looks at each of these issues on their own, so the studies about child welfare or about homelessness or about educational difficulties. There is even a fair amount of work that looks at issues from the perspective of, say, two systems, so for example, how kids experiencing homelessness do in school and the challenges they have or how kids in foster care might do in school. But, there is really a lot less work that looks at things explicitly from the view of multiple systems and tries to tackle this issue of when kids are involved in more than one system how can those systems come together in a more effective way to serve the issues that cross-systems youth face?”

Dr. Annahita Ball,
Dr. Elizabeth Bowen, &
Dr. Annette Semanchin-Jones

Cross-systems youth, or youth who experience homelessness, child welfare involvement, and educational difficulty, often suffer due to lack of continuity and stability in their school and home lives, as well as in service provision. These children are at risk for a number of negative outcomes, which are in part a reflection of the failure of multiple systems. In this episode, three members of the University at Buffalo School of Social Work faculty (Anna Ball, Betsy Bowen, and Annette Semanchin-Jones) engage in a discussion on cross-systems youth. They highlight their research involving the perspectives and experiences of youth and service providers in relation to multiple systems – education, child welfare, and housing and social services – and provide suggestions to improve and promote collaboration.

Annahita Ball, PhD, is Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. She completed her doctorate in social work at The Ohio State University. Her research focuses on interorganizational partnerships and interprofessional collaborations in youth-serving contexts that promote the healthy development of children and families. Dr. Ball’s teaching interests are diversity and oppression, social work services in schools, human behavior, and policy. She was recently honored with membership to the Diversity Scholars Network, part of the National Center for Institutional Diversity.

Elizabeth Bowen, PhD, is Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. She completed her doctorate in social work at The University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Bowen’s research centers on the health and resilience of people experiencing homelessness. Using qualitative and quantitative methods, Bowen’s work examines the pathways that link homelessness and health conditions. Her teaching interests include substance use and addictions, social welfare history and policy, and community social work. Dr. Bowen has published widely in journals, including the American Journal of Public Health, Children and Youth Services Review, and Public Health Nutrition. Her article “No peace without justice: Addressing the United States’ War on Drugs in social work education” received the 2017 Best Teaching Note award from the Journal of Social Work Education.

Annette Semanchin Jones, PhD, is Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. She completed her doctorate in social work at The University of Minnesota. Dr. Semanchin Jones’ research focuses on innovative approaches in child welfare that aim to strengthen child well-being and permanency. Her research and teaching are informed by her professional experience working with children and families. Dr. Semanchin Jones partners with public and private child welfare organizations on projects such as promoting relational permanence for youth in foster care; strengthening supportive networks for vulnerable youth; identifying supports for families and children who experience chronic neglect; and building organizational capacity to implement evidence-based trauma treatments..

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