Episode 158 - Dr. Danilea Werner: Social Workers' Preparedness for School and Community Crisis

Monday, January 05, 2015, 7:45:51 AM

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In this episode, our guest Dr. Danilea Werner argues that social workers, especially those who work in school settings, are on he front line of response to school and community crisis events. She discusses her research with school social workers, examining their perceptions of their own and their district's preparedness for crisis events. Dr. Werner recommends how school social workers can increase their own preparedness and their confidence in their district colleagues' ability to respond effectively.

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Average Rating: 4stars  preparedness and student voice, Friday, February 12, 2021

By Ben Michalak :

This podcast provided a great overview of a social worker’s expansive and multifaceted role in a school setting. In my personal experience, while a school social worker does provide essential “traditional” services, the kinds of supports that Dr. Werner describes, those focused on whole-school wellbeing and outreach to the community, are equally important, and something I enjoy immensely.

I was working in an upstate NY elementary school in 2017, and we took in many Puerto Rican refugees following Hurricane Maria. My experience mirrored what was discussed in this episode. The initial trauma was compounded by the move to a wholly unfamiliar place and a climate – both literal and educational – that was largely unrecognizable to the new arrivals. While much community and institutional support existed in the months directly following the events that fall, much of it disappeared once other things took over the headlines.

Disaster planning cannot be the sole purview of teachers – they have neither the time, nor in many cases the skills or, ultimately, the interest in the minutiae of such things. This isn’t a dig at teachers; quite the opposite, the role of school support personnel becomes that much more important when it can help free up teachers’ already limited time to do what they signed up to do. When staff and parents get involved in this kind of planning, the outcomes are more well-rounded, more holistic, and better suited to community need. However, what is so often missing in discussions around what is best for students, and what is ultimately missing in this discussion as well, is the actual student voice. The most straightforward way to reduce anxiety is familiarity and education. Empowering students to actively participate in disaster planning ensures that, should one of these horrific eventualities come to pass, kids will be better prepared to not only act in the moment, but to process and, understand, and weather the storm in whatever form it arrives.

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Average Rating: 5stars  podcast review, Monday, February 10, 2020

By Hanna Josker :

This podcast was of interest to me because I am interested in becoming a school social work. My current internship is at a school and my supervisor is the school social worker. Crisis situations in schools can happen at all levels of schools from elementary to high school. Social workers and school safety teams need to be prepared if certain crises to occur.

Social workers are at the frontline of providing help to people in crisis situations. This is why social workers should be actively involved in any community and crisis situations in order to have services ready in order to provide the appropriate services.

The study done in this podcast showed that social workers tend to be moderately prepared for crisis situations, however they do not believe that their schools are nearly as prepared. It is crucial for schools to work with their social workers so that they are ready to provide services. A social worker can not do everything on their own and with the help of school staff, they can effectively handle crisis situations as a whole school so that all of the weight is not on the shoulders of the school social worker.

A crisis situation that schools may face include an active shooter, death in the school, and even a natural disaster. It is important for school personnel to realize that community crises directly impact the schools in those communities. A hurricane can lead to a crisis situation in schools because some students and staff do not have a home anymore or running water. This is a situation where the school social worker, school staff, and emergency personnel can come together and do what they can for their student body in need.

The best way for social workers to prepare for crisis situations is by practicing what they will do and what staff will do if a crisis situation occurs at their school. This is a great way to gain the skills needed to enact safety plans and make sure the entire school is on the same page.

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Average Rating: 5stars  dr. werner, Monday, February 11, 2019

By NA :

I really appreciate Dr. Werner’s discussion on the importance of preparing for school and community crises. My current field placement is in a school and the most vital role of the social worker and faculty is the safety of the students, ensuring that there is a reasonable plan in place for when crises come up. When examining what is necessary for preparing for crises, Dr. Werner highlighted that preparation and total involvement are major parts in being successful. As she explained, social workers are on the frontline in emergency situations in schools and in communities so it is important for us to prepare an achievable plan. We must be actively involved in teaching colleagues and community workers how to prepare for future crises as we are trained in every aspect and understand the impact it can have individuals. A part of her discussion that stuck with me was when she discussed how preparation and successful implementation benefits long-term emotional recovery – communities must be well-informed in mental health and understand the influence it can have on internal healing.

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Average Rating: 5stars  my school experience, Saturday, February 09, 2019

By Brooke :

As a school employee and a parent of children who attend the school I work at, I found this podcast very relevant as we have experienced lock-down situations in the past. I appreciate Dr. Werner’s research on the importance of school personnel being prepared to handle crisis events and the importance of having a crisis response team in every school, with a prepared crisis management response plan. Schools cannot undervalue the importance of training, implementing, and practicing their response plan because this is what helps others feel confident in their abilities too effectively respond during a crisis. As Dr. Werner stated, when schools are less prepared they feel less confident in their ability to handle the crisis. The saying, “if you don’t use it you lose it” was the perfect way to remind us that practicing the schools crisis response plan is an important aspect of preparation, and should not be undervalued. Being active participants on our schools crisis response team is another way that we as social workers can help support our school community because we as social workers have knowledge related to the impact of trauma on students, families, and the systems that are a part of. Unfortunately, I have found that some school’s crisis response teams address only the immediate logistical needs and the physical safety of students in their response plans. This is critically important, but I find that there is not enough discussion around plans to address the short and long term emotional and mental health needs of students and their families. This too should be a critical component of any crisis response plan. This podcast has encouraged me to talk with our administration about becoming a member of my schools crisis response team.

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Average Rating: 5stars  podcast review - , Wednesday, February 03, 2016

By Shelley M. :

I enjoyed this podcast and found its content very insightful and useful. I am currently completing my field placement in an elementary school where safety tends to be a priority. I am familiar with how the school system communicates with parents and what types of drills are practiced since I am also a parent in the same school district. The thought of something happening in the school while I am there makes me feel uncomfortable since I have never practiced the drills personally. I know there are procedures in place but since I am not familiar with them and have not practiced them I am not confident in my ability to respond to a crisis. This podcast has prompted me to have a discussion with my supervisor regarding this issue. The importance of training, developing procedures, and practicing plans is stressed in the podcast and I couldn’t agree more with the significance in promoting the perception of preparedness for crisis situations.
Although I never had really thought about the school being a frontline for community disasters I realize how true it is. We have had situations that have occurred in our community that have made an impact on everyone including our children. The school system and community has supports in place to assist the students with dealing with these types of disasters. After the extra supports of the initial crisis have ended the school system continues to offer long term support to their students.
I also support the importance of policy development in this area that would require schools to have crisis plans in place and the opportunity for staff to practice these plans.

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Average Rating: 5stars  podcast review, Monday, February 01, 2016

By Katherine D. Sparks :

I enjoyed this podcast it shed light to something I see in my field placement on a regular basis. Often times I see my field educator being the informative voice for colleagues in terms of mental health and crisis. My placement seems to have a good plan in place for if a crisis were to happen in the school building. However, this podcast made me think about how all school personnel are or are not prepared for other crisis such as death of a student or colleague, suicide, or natural disaster. I agreed with Dr. Werner that it's so easier for us to not think of a natural disaster affecting the school environment if it was not directly harmed. But the trickle down effects such as job loss and poverty are major factors in student mental health changes and changes in the school environment. I found the idea of having a crisis team and practicing an established plan on a regular basis to be helpful to both faculty and students. It fosters a kind of confidence within everyone that should something happen, we know what to do and we don't have to panic. I think the hardest aspect of implementing something like this would to get all faculty members to understand why this is important and get them engaged in the preparation.

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Average Rating: 4stars  being prepared for a crisis within schools , Monday, February 01, 2016

By Mariya Lokshina :

I thought that this podcast is extremely beneficial for not only school social workers but for all personnel within a school district. Dr. Werner discusses how school personnel need to have a plan and specific training to help deal with a potential crisis that may transpire within a school setting. She mentions how both individually preparing and preparing as a group to respond to a crisis is vital. Dr. Werner specifies that within schools over 30% of social workers stated that there has been at least one crisis within a school year. Though each event may be different and the level of severity may be interchangeable, it is still vital to be mentally prepared for all types of events both individually and as a group.I think that it is important for all personnel of a school to have this training and planning set in place to not only ensure the safety of all individuals within the school/community but to also prevent trauma that may transpire. With the trainings for responding to crises, the idea of trauma-informed practice also becomes important. Since we are dealing with adolescents and youth, it is important for the workers/personnel to be prepared because they have to not only deal with the crisis itself, but also with the safety of the children within the school. When better prepared with training and planning, potential traumas can be avoided or lowered within both the students and the staff (or really anyone impacted) if the staff members are more trained and prepared. In addition, parents may feel more safe leaving their child in a school where they know the personnel is trained for possible crisis events. In an event of crisis, fear will naturally take place and a sense of trauma will transpire, however, when properly trained, the way that all who face the trauma react can alter in a possible less post-traumatic way.

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Average Rating: 4stars  dr. werner & crisis preparedness for school social workers, Sunday, January 31, 2016

By Elizabeth Hastreiter :

In this podcast, Dr. Werner discusses the issue of a lack of mental health preparedness in communities. Current school employees, not only social workers, will find Werner’s research on perceptions of preparedness in the face of crisis at school useful, including her advice on how to increase preparedness. In her research, she examined school social workers’ perceptions of preparedness in handling a crisis in their school, and her results indicated that the majority of social workers felt prepared themselves, but did not feel that their schools were fully prepared. She then goes on to provide ideas for concrete ways that schools can become more prepared such as creating a crisis team, having a plan, and practicing that plan regularly. As a social work student who interns at an elementary school, Werner’s podcast prompted me to review the safety protocols for emergency situations that have been provided to me by my field placement and whether I feel equipped to adequately handle the crisis and protect my students and fellow staff members.
Werner also touches on past crisis situations in schools such as Sandy Hook, and how a tragic incident like that should be looked at as an opportunity to learn how we can prevent and prepare for similar situations. She brings in the element of being trauma-informed when working in a school when she discusses the importance of doing emergency drills, especially active shooter drills, in a way that does to not produce anxiety in children and that allows for open communication among parents, children, and school faculty. Overall, Dr. Werner’s podcast is a must listen for those, including social workers, school personnel, parents, and social work students, who want to learn more about safety and how to be more prepared for crisis situations from a professional who has had her share of experiences to back up her discussion.

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Average Rating: 4stars  social worker and school preparedness for crisis events, Sunday, January 31, 2016

By Candra Skrzypek :

I found this podcast useful and thought-provoking, not only as an individual who currently works in a school and may one day work as a school social worker, but also on a personal level as an individual who cares for school-aged children. Dr. Werner discussed her research with school social workers and reports that while most school social workers feel prepared to deal with crisis, many more social workers feel less confident in the rest of their school's staff to deal a crisis event. Dr. Werner highlights the importance of not only having a safety and preparedness plan, but also the importance of practicing these plans. I am reminded of one incident where a tornado touched down and destroyed a gas station a block away from the school where I was working and how with hundreds of young children crying in the hallway, all the teachers (myself included) were texting one another, trying to figure out what we were supposed to be doing while trying to not alarm the children.

The practical advice Dr. Werner gave about actually having a plan and practicing it was important. I also like how she pointed out how the effects of crisis last much longer than the media gives it attention. Lastly, the attention the attention the podcast gave to community outreach and parent involvement was useful. I do wish, however, that more specific information was provided as to what preparedness plans should look like, what 'long-term' preparedness plans may include (e.g., to address effects one-year after crisis) and how increased turnover and high levels of vacancies and substitutes may affect how a school prepares for a crisis event. Overall, the content of the interview was thought-provoking and many topics touched upon are topics that could easily be discussed within a school, or more generally, at home with any child or parent.

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Average Rating: 4stars  good information for crisis preparedness development, Monday, January 25, 2016

By Dee Murch :

In the past month the region I live in has experienced the death of a Principal from an accident, a student suicide, and a faculty suicide. These were difficult events to deal with and in two years I may be in role that requires I offer professional care to my community. This is the perspective I brought with me as I listened to the podcast. I am pleased that Professor Werner’s research is helping exposing on the need for mental health preparedness.
I appreciate the practical ideas Professor Werner shared as a result of her research. Training how to respond to crisis situations beyond fires are extremely important for staff and children. Her survey of 800 school social workers demonstrated the prevalence of crisis experienced within schools and how the school is a central system in the community and a great starting point to disseminate information to children, parents, and community members. Professor Werner discussed how practicing the safety plan increased the confidence a school social worker had in their school’s ability to deal with a crisis. Data like this is important as schools and other organizations look to expand their ability to deal with a crisis.
I would have appreciated more specific information regarding strategies for dealing with mental health issues that arise from a community crisis. I believe the prevalence of social media and digital imagery can multiply the trauma experienced by students as they experience the crisis multiple times through video or the retelling of the crisis over social media. These are issues that are relevant to school social workers at all levels of education. I am hopeful that Professor Werner’s work continues to highlight the important role school social workers play in the mental health of students, their families and the communities they live in.

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Average Rating: 4stars  interventions ii podcast review (krause), Saturday, January 31, 2015

By Olivia Camarella :

I really enjoyed listening to this podcast. My bachelors is in childhood education so as a social work student I have a lot of interest in school social work. I really liked how you discussed that even after these crises have been resolved the families involved are still affected. It is social workers jobs to help these families during the aftermath. It is also important that we help create a crisis team for our school so that more people in charge are more prepared in case of a crisis event. If we are more prepared for a crisis we can help protect our students and families. I like how you discusses that it is not enough to have a plan, but that you need to practice this plan. If you do not know how to implement this plan then it will not be as affective. I found it very interesting that you studied how many people had been affective by crisis and that you split it into categories. I did not know that such a high percentage has experienced a crisis. That was very eye opening for me because I had no idea that many people had experienced a natural disaster or lockdown. Overall this podcast was very informative for me as a teacher and social worker. We need to be prepared to protect our students, faculty, and families to the best of our ability. This includes being prepared for a crisis, by being proactive and not only reactive.

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