Episode 259 - 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

Monday, March 11, 2019, 9:25:24 AM

Image of Dr. Annahita Ball, Dr. Elizabeth Bowen, and 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.

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Average Rating: 5 stars (7 listener reviews )

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Average Rating: 5stars  review of podcast, Friday, February 12, 2021

By Heather :

I thoroughly enjoyed this podcast and saddened to know that this is something that isn't already in place. When a child has a learning disability, there is a 504 plan in place. This requires the student, the parents/guardians, teachers, principals, school nurse, counselor, psychologist, language/speech pathologist (if needed) and possibly the student's physician or therapist, to be involved in the placement process which also includes the 504 meeting. While I recognize the probability of all these entities collaborating every time is low, but I do know that there is a team of people who organize and plan what is best for a certain child. Knowing this, I have to wonder why this isn't utilized more often with other aspects of adolescent problem areas.
Hearing the issues that all the parties are having and then their hopeful ways to try and alleviate some of the constraints that they are under, seems like a simple fix. Clearly I know that it isn't a simple fix, but it definitely seems more obtainable.

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Average Rating: 5stars  podcast review, Thursday, February 11, 2021

By Kerry :

This research and their findings was very interesting, especially working in the school setting as a counselor/social worker with vulnerable children. When working with this population, communication and cross-system collaboration is a critical component to ensure a positive outcome for each case. Working in the educational system, I see first hand how lack of collaboration between the school and the child welfare system can negatively affect a child and their families. I particularly found this podcast of interest due to a more recent case I was involved in with a child being removed from the home, put into a group home and pulled from his school. As discussed, frequent mobility is a very high stressor and prevents these children from forming relationships with adults, as well as adds to trust issues that many already struggles with. The child welfare system often times fails these children, leaving them with a feeling of loneliness. This leads to distrust in the system, issues not being addressed and the appropriate resources not being offered. I particularly liked how they did two studies, one with youth and the other with agencies, to get both perspectives. It is difficult to collaborate if all agencies aren't on the same page. Unfortunately, the end result greatly impacts the youth in a negative way. Communication, as well as limited understanding within the agencies and how their agency operates is another barrier. If the agency can't work together and trust one another, how are vulnerable youth suppose to develop trust? My experience in the case mentioned above was lack of communication between the school and the child welfare system. This child, as well as all others involved in the child welfare system, spends a majority of time in school, trying to develop relationships, to have some sense of normalcy outside of their neglectful home environment, just to be torn from their home and school, and placed in a new environment at such a young age.

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Average Rating: 5stars  podcast review, Wednesday, February 05, 2020

By Sara :

I found the research and findings of the podcast to not only be relevant to working with vulnerable youth, but could also be applied to a wide variety of areas within the social work profession. Improving collaboration and communication across systems as well as between client and worker is one of the guiding principles of our profession. I appreciated how the research included the perspectives of both the youth as well as service providers in order to identify major themes and barriers surrounding this issue. In my own personal experience within the field, I have also noticed that vulnerable youth are often experiencing multiple challenges and stressors, which cannot be adequately addressed by a single agency. Without collaboration between agencies, youth and families are not receiving the help they need including not fully addressing all issues, not having access to appropriate resources, as well as being told different things from multiple providers. When service providers are not working together, youth and families can feel overwhelmed, which may result in little work being accomplished. I also agree that it would be extremely beneficial to assign one agency to take the team lead on the case in order to ensure effective collaboration and follow-through among all service providers.
While listening to the discussion related to children experiencing high mobility within both educational settings as well as housing, the McKinney-Vento Act came to mind. This act protects the rights of homeless youth within the school setting and allows homeless students to remain in their current school throughout the year. This act demonstrates the importance of legislation within the field of social work in order to support our profession’s values in addition to promoting the delivery of needed services to vulnerable populations.

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Average Rating: 5stars  wonderful discussion, Monday, February 03, 2020

By Sarah :

I found that their research validated my feelings of frustration with the child welfare system. A major barrier they listed was frequent mobility. Children are moved from home to home, school to school, provider to provider. This lack of continuity prevents children and adolescents from forming healthy attachments which can greatly affect their adult relationships.
One thing I am curious about is why there is not a better relationship between social work and the education system. We have a similar set of values and yet, in my own experience, it is difficult to collaborate with the school system or school social workers are overwhelmed with high caseloads and a lack of engagement. Children spend the majority of their day at school, meaning that their teachers see them more than anyone else in their lives. Educators and Social workers are both overwhelmed with red-tape, lack of funding, and large caseloads/class sizes. How can we help each other meet a common goal?
I agree that having multidisciplinary teams to meet the clients’ needs is necessary. My experience is consistent with their findings in that it is difficult to work with multiple agencies when there is a mistrust between providers and when the mission and goals of different agencies differ. This signals to me that structural changes need to occur. If providers do not trust each-other, why would youths navigating the system trust those same workers?

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Average Rating: 5stars  podcast 259 response, Saturday, February 01, 2020

By Aleah :

I was interested in this podcast because I intern at a youth organization that has several students who have been involved in the foster care system. I agree with the idea that a lot of these kids do have a distrust in the system and of many adults due to either the under reaction or overreaction that has been previously displayed to them when they have disclosed sensitive information about their lives in the past. Something I felt that resonated with me was that these children display emotional outbursts and that they want adults to recognize that it isn't them, but it is a side effect of trauma they have experienced. I feel that too often adults dismiss children and label them as 'difficult' or 'overemotional' without really trying to understand why the child might be acting that way. Another thing that I thought was interesting in this article, and that I have noticed in practice, is that schools have a very different idea about students needs than service providers do. I think that there needs to be more awareness in schools about children's mental health needs and more accessibility for in-school counseling services.

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Average Rating: 5stars  podcast review, Monday, April 22, 2019

By Erika :

I found the topic of this podcast and the research provided very interesting. I think that the information can be utilized in a productive way by many people aside from those in the social work field. I was specifically drawn to the point of frequent mobility in this population of youth. As discussed in the podcast, these children have no control over this mobility and the change that comes along with it can heavily impact their lives. In some of these children, the impact of this trauma could be easily seen but others may not be as reactive. I think this part of the research done was something that every person that comes into contact with one of these children should keep in mind and in doing so will make a huge difference in this child's life. Later in the podcast, the collaboration of schools and service agencies is brought up. Since there is a difference in the goals of these agencies and the school system, there is a disconnect that can effect helping the children that are involved with both systems. My experience in working with children in the school system has proven this to be occurring. A lot of children that are utilizing outside services are never brought to the school's attention. These children are spending most of their lives in school so the existence of some sort of alignment between these two systems could be very beneficial for the youth that are involved with both. The research provided in this podcast was very eye opening and I feel could be very impactful for anyone that has interaction with youth. Just keeping this information in mind when interacting with a child could really change how we help this population.

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Average Rating: 5stars  much needed research, Friday, April 05, 2019

By Karan :

Personally growing-up in the foster care system here in WNY area I’m overjoyed that negative outcomes experienced by this vulnerable population due to multiple systems failing is being addressed for improvements. Now as an adult new to my fifties it’s refreshing to see light being shed on major concerns that have been the vehicle that has led to negative outcomes for many I know. When an eight year old walks to the Ellicott Square Building on numerous occasions complaining to his case-worker about being molested and not even a house visit occurs that system is in dire need of repair. Many systems failed this boy. He barely went to school, when he attended he wasn’t clean despite multiple systems knowing he was a ward of the state. Eventually he was homeless before he was twelve years old and got lost in the school to prison pipeline. As sad as this case maybe it’s one of many I know from others that were in a neglectful foster care system.
Having this discussion is essential toward eliminating the possibilities of negative outcomes being experienced in systems meant to provide security and safety. Those fundamental problems need to get fixed. It’s imperative that (Anna Ball, Betsy Bowen, and Annette Semanchin-Jones) continue this important research even if it’s at one systems level at a time. I must admit growing up in the system I have no quick fix solutions however, I do thinking making sure competent social workers are in place that’s can hear and understand a child’s plea for help. Another help I think would be to provide support groups that focus solely on the children in the system and making sure their needs are being heard/met. There’s no reason that a child makes it from junior high to leaving high school with a pair of pants when there is a clothing allowance provided by the state. The mention of cross-system collaboration is a promising prospect that can hold individual systems accountable. Looking forward to future research.

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