Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is an immigration classification that provides a pathway to lawful permanent residency for non-citizen immigrant children in the United States who have experienced abuse, neglect, abandonment, or similar basis under state law; who cannot reunify with one or both parents; who are under state court jurisdiction; and for whom it is not in their best interests to be returned to their country of nationality or prior residence. Social workers have played a significant role in the development of SIJS, and they have an ongoing role in the identification and referral of potentially eligible children as well as in the refinement of SIJS policies. Social workers’ roles with SIJS represent the profession’s multifaceted capacity, including support and referral with individual children, advocacy across multiple systems, and policy practice in the creation and continued improvement of this protective status.
Kathleen Coulborn Faller
Social workers play a vital role in helping physically and sexually abused children. In order to play this role, they need knowledge about the nature of the problem: (1) legal definitions of physical and sexual abuse, (2) its incidence and prevalence, and (3) its signs and symptoms. Social workers have three major roles to play: (1) identifying and reporting child abuse to agencies mandated to intervene; (2) investigating and assessing children and families involved in child abuse; and (3) providing evidence-based interventions, both case management and treatment, to physically and sexually abused children.
Michelle Alvarez, Kimberly Zammitt, Laura Strunk, and Kevin Filter
A functional behavioral assessment (FBA) is a set of procedures that are used to assess and identify environmental conditions that predict and maintain behavior FBA is a means to determine the purpose of a person’s behavior and the ways in which the behavior is reinforced in the person’s environment. Underlying the functional assessment of behavior is the assumption that the way one behaves is functionally related to aspects of the environment. This relation is reliable, predictable, and observable, and can thus be assessed by an outside observer. The FBA entails the use of a series of methods to determine the variables that contextualize a behavior of interest. Contextual variables can include any aspect of the individual’s environment and are usually separated temporally between those factors that occur before a behavior and those which occur after. The latter are termed consequences and the former are typically referred to as antecedents. Usually, the behaviors under study, especially in applied settings, are called target behaviors. Temporally, these factors are conceptualized in an ABC framework: antecedent, behavior, and consequence. The behavior of interest is the target of a subsequent intervention; the intervention is informed by the FBA and utilizes the understanding of the behavior’s purpose. Antecedents are altered such that target behaviors are no longer prompted or motivated by environmental conditions, new socially acceptable behaviors are taught that can access the desired reinforcer and replace the target behavior, and reinforcers are altered to decrease access when the target behavior occurs and increase access when the replacement behavior occurs. FBAs are frequently used in schools to address problem behaviors. Problem behaviors occur with students in the school setting for many different reasons. Research has determined that the use of FBAs is useful in identifying environmental factors that predict and maintain problem behaviors. The use of FBAs in the school setting has proven to increase positive student outcomes. This article demonstrates how FBAs can be used effectively in different settings.
Jessica M. Black
Scientific findings from social sciences, neurobiology, endocrinology, and immunology highlight the adaptive benefits of positive emotion and activity to both mental and physical health. Positive activity, such as engagement with music and exercise, can also contribute to favorable health outcomes. This article reviews scientific evidence of the adaptive benefits of positive emotion and activity throughout the life course, with examples drawn from the fetal environment through late adulthood. Specifically, the text weaves together theory and empirical findings from an interdisciplinary literature to describe how positive emotion and activity help to build important cognitive, social, and physical resources throughout the life course.
Ronald Pitner, Hadass Moore, Gordon Capp, Aidyn Iachini, Ruth Berkowitz, Rami Benbenishty, and Ron Avi Astor
This article focuses on socio-ecological and whole-school approaches to coping with school violence, while highlighting best practices for selecting, developing, and monitoring interventions. We present several empirically supported programs, followed by identified characteristics of successful interventions and considerations on selecting an appropriate program for a particular school. Finally, we discuss the systematic monitoring method and approach and its utility in creating safer schools while emphasizing the contextual features and the nested environment in which schools reside. We suggest manners in which the systematic monitoring approach can be considered, advocated, and implemented by school staff members, particularly school social workers.
Aidyn Iachini, Ruth Berkowitz, Hadass Moore, Ronald Pitner, Ron Avi Astor, and Rami Benbenishty
School climate is critical for school improvement efforts, yet questions remain regarding how best to define and measure the construct. Research demonstrates relationships between a positive school climate and important youth development and academic learning outcomes. As school climate policies continue to develop, clarification regarding the dimensions of school climate and continued research on how school climate impacts school and student outcomes remains important.
Charles D. Garvin
This article presents an overview of group work with adolescents and examines how social justice is an important consideration in such work. It discusses the kinds of issues faced by adolescents and how group work assists them in coping with these. Both support and treatment groups are described along with citations of empirical evidence of their effectiveness. A typology of treatment approaches is included as well as details of the phases of the group work process.
Jessica M. Black
Although it was once widely held that development through toddlerhood was the only significant time of tremendous brain growth, findings from neuroscience have identified adolescence as a second significant period of brain-based changes. Profound modification of brain structure, function, and connectivity, paired with heightened sensitivity to environment, places adolescence both as a heightened period of risk and importantly as a time of tremendous opportunity. These findings are of key relevance for social-work policy and practice, for they speak to the ways in which the adolescent brain both is vulnerable to adverse conditions and remains responsive to positive environmental input such as interventions that support recovery and resilience.
Cynthia Franklin, Linda Webb, and Hannah Szlyk
This article will cover the current best practices in designing and establishing alternative programs for at-risk students and suggest how social workers can assist in program development and sustainability. At-risk students are youth considered more likely than others to drop out of school due to various factors, including truancy, poor grades, disruptive behaviors, pregnancy, and repeated expulsions or suspensions. The history of alternative education in the United States will be reviewed and the types of alternative educations programs in practice outlined. How the framework of an alternative school differs from that of a disciplinary program will be examined along with initial steps toward development and implementation. Effective strategies explained include establishing a task force, involving the greater community, and implementing evidence-based interventions such as Response to Intervention (RTI) into the school curriculum. An example of a sustainable public alternative education program grounded in solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) is presented.
Carol M. Lewis and Shanti Kulkarni
Despite downward trends in the U.S. teen birth rate overall, the associated social and economic costs are still significant. Historically, teen pregnancy prevention policy and program adoption have been influenced by the sociopolitical environment at national, state, and local levels. Recent federal efforts have begun to re-emphasize the importance of developing and supporting evidence-based prevention efforts. Current teen pregnancy prevention approaches are reviewed with attention to the range of program philosophies, components, settings, populations served, and documented effectiveness. Promising directions in pregnancy prevention program development for adolescents are also highlighted.