Safe, Stable and Nurturing Families Help Everyone Achieve their Fullest Potential
December 2018
Happy Holidays from the Jordan Institute for Families!

Building on a 22 year legacy of strengthening families, communities, and the people who serve them , we aim to amplify our impact by finding new solutions to complex problems, fostering collective action, moving research into policy and practice, and keeping social workers and community leaders at the top of their game. We hope you'll join with us as we work together to create the conditions where all families can thrive!

Wishing you and your family all the best this season and beyond. ~ Sarah Verbiest , DrPH, MSW, Director

Let YOUR Voice Be Heard

We are excited to be advancing practice, challenging thinking, and sharing stories through the JIF blog. Click here to read our current posts! We have been focusing on social work change agents who are taking on important social justice issues. Learn more about Oprah Keyes (pictured above), Jared Cates, Quinton Smith and Victoria Crouse. Have something to share? Email Melissa - the forum is open - speak up!
Strengthening Military Connected Families

Many families in the United States are connected to military institutions, in large part due to ongoing global conflicts. Although military-connected families can face unique demands (e.g., deployments, combat exposure, frequent relocations), they can also exhibit profound levels of resilience. Across military-service branches, systems of support are available to promote resilience among active-duty members and their families. The Family Advocacy Program (FAP) is charged with promoting family well-being and preventing maltreatment (e.g., violence, abuse, neglect) in the homes of active-duty members. FAP practitioners, who are stationed in bases and installations across the globe (including North Carolina), deliver programs, offer services, and engage in outreach.
Turning to the Unites States Air Force (USAF), FAP leaders have recently sought to fortify their overall approach to maltreatment prevention. Key practice-related questions were “what factors best predict whether maltreatment will occur in the homes of active-duty members?” and “what available and tested interventions align with this knowledge base?” Starting in 2014, a team of researchers from the School of Social Work partnered with USAF FAP leaders to begin answering these questions. The result was a comprehensive “logic model,” or visual depiction of key factors that can predict whether maltreatment will occur. The logic model now serves as an aid to FAP leaders in selecting programs and services for families.
The team is now developing an assessment tool, the Personal and Family Strengths Inventory. The tool will be used by FAP practitioners to identify areas of risk and strength among active-duty members and their families. The tool will serve primarily as a catalyst for meaningful conversation between FAP practitioners and members, which can inform service planning aimed at preventing maltreatment and promoting well-being and mission readiness. Dr. Todd Jensen, a Research Associate in the Jordan Institute for Families and Dr. Gary Bowen, Dean of the School of Social Work, are Co-Principal Investigators for this project. The project team also includes Drs. Paul Lanier and Cindy Fraga Rizo. Please email Todd Jensen , PhD, MSW for more info.
Taking on the Challenges of Child Welfare

The Jordan Institute for Families is proud to have co-sponsored the 8 th Wicked Problems of Child Welfare Institute which was held in Chicago, IL in October 2018. The event focused on the new Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), specifically the need to generate evidence about effective child welfare interventions. Children’s Home Society of America (CHSA) member agencies came together with university, public child welfare, and philanthropic partners to learn about the opportunities this major new federal program creates.

Keynote speaker Dr. Jill Duerr Berrick from the University of California Berkeley presented on the “impossible imperative,” - an exploration of the competing demands and values that exist in child welfare policy and practice. Presenters from the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Casey Family Programs led discussions of the new FFPSA law, which opens up Title IV-E entitlement dollars to prevent children from entering or re-entering foster care. Dr. Kirsten Kainz from the UNC School of Social Work presented innovative work underway with the Get Ready Guilford initiative in NC. Drs. Mark Testa and Allison Metz shared a model for public and private child welfare, university, and philanthropic partnerships.

The pinnacle of the event was the launching of the National CHSA Child Welfare Learning Lab, a partnership among several schools of social work, including UNC, to pursue opportunities to generate evidence about effective child welfare practices and expand the pool of interventions that are supported by evidence. For more information about the Child Welfare Learning Lab, please contact Selena Childs .
NEW Family Support Program for Families with Children with Special Needs
Families with children who have special needs living in the Triangle area of North Carolina have a vital new resource. The Family Support Program at the Jordan Institute for Families has partnered with the Family Resource Center of South Atlantic (FRCSA) to launch the Family Support Network™ of the Greater Triangle (FSN-GT) , serving Chatham, Durham, Orange, Person, and Wake counties. The affiliate is funded with a three-year grant from the federal Health Resources & Services Administration Family-to-Family Health Information Centers Program.

“We are so pleased to collaborate with the Family Resource Center South Atlantic to sponsor this FSN Affiliate, as they are so well established in the Triangle area and have a superb record of working with families”, noted Tamara Norris, Clinical Associate Professor and Director of the Family Support Program. She praised the commitment of a group of UNC faculty, family members, and providers who met for two years to develop this program.

This new Family Support Network™ of North Carolina affiliate joins eleven FSN local programs across the state that build capacity in their communities to support families with children who have special needs. To foster innovation and best practice in family support services, FSN-GT also will be a demonstration site for research related to improving outcomes for families. The first research project will study the needs of working parents during key life transitions for their child with special needs. Funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Dr. Susan Girdler, of the UNC School of Medicine, and Ms. Norris are partnering on the two-year study with faculty from 5 UNC departments.

FSN-GT offers the statewide Access Family Support Health Information Center to provide support, information, resources, and training to families of children and youth with special health care needs and the professionals who serve them through a toll-free number (800-852-0042) and a website. Please contact Tamara Norris for more information.  
The Student Safety and Wellness Summit

The Jordan Institute and School of Social Work were pleased to join with teams from the Schools of Education, Medicine and Public Health to host the first NC Student Safety and Wellness Summit at the end of November. While schools should be a place of learning for everyone, for many students and teachers schools are a place of stress, fear, and anxiety. Concerns for the physical safety of students in response to gun violence has led to a "hardening" of schools. There is much work to be done to identify evidence-based practices for improving the equally important social-emotional safety of young people. Tauchiana Williams, MSW, and Sarah Verbiest, JIF Director, organized a panel of educators, policy makers, students, and parents to respond to the question - what makes a healthy and safe school? Below are some highlights from the rich discussion.

Caring adults are essential - children and youth need people at school that they can trust. The NC General Assembly has a number of proposals for the long session that may increase the number of nurses and social workers in schools. Supportive staff, coaches and mentors also help create a welcoming environment. An educator on the panel offered a list of questions to assess the health of a school. Are teachers growing and feeling productive? Are parents engaged? Is a community being built around a school? Are the kids growing academically? Does the school recognize and celebrate equity and diversity?

Student voices should be centered. There is a power in building peer to peer supports. Students need tools so they can alert adults to problems. Attention must be paid to social media and conversations on topics like suicide, self harm and cyberbullying. The threats are real - words are powerful weapons too. Schools may have many programs happening at the same time to address different issues. Panelists agreed that it is better to focus on one program at a time and do it well. It is not helpful to have lots of initiatives without adequate attention and resources. 

Finally, the panel advised: Change what is in your reach, Keep parents at the table, and Build respectful relationships with youth and school officers. The challenge is a big one - there is no one size fits all solution for what makes a safe school. Yet, this work is critically important. As one panelist noted, "Our children are going through so much - we have to take care of them." Stay tuned for the work that will follow this collaborative summit. Email Sarah for more info.
Meet Jesalyn Keziah

Jesalyn Keziah, a first year social work student, is this year's research assistant in the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab. She has over 8 years experience in grassroots community organizing and nonprofit consulting with a wide range of very creative, diverse, and innovative community-based nonprofits and social organizations across NC and beyond. Jesalyn has lived and worked in rural NC her entire life, and comes from deep multi-generational NC and Indigenous roots. Many people in her family and community have been entrepreneurs and social innovators. She brings these perspectives to her work, encouraging diversity and representation in programming, a community-minded approach, and appreciation for creative approaches. You can reach her with thoughts about the SIE Lab here .
Early Home Visiting Summit a Success!

The Jordan Institute was pleased to co-sponsor the first statewide conference for home visitors and the leaders who support them. Dr. Paul Lanier launched the summit with a presentation of the results and recommendations from the Early Home Visiting Landscape Assessment, conducted by the JIF team, led by Paul lanier with support from Sarah Verbiest, DrPH, Katherine Bryant, MA, MSPH, and graduate students Elizabeth Nicholls and Gerard Chung. To review the report and related resources click here . To learn more about the Summit check out this article by EdNC. To watch a webinar presentation by Dr. Lanier on the Landscape Analysis, watch here ! The team is looking forward to 2019 and working to move the report recommendations into action!
National Policies with a Local Impact: Refugee Wellness Program Update

The New Year is likely to bring worry to millions of families seeking safety inside U.S. borders. Due to federal policy changes, only 30,000 people will be allowed into the U.S. through the refugee resettlement program next year. To put this number in perspective, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees reported that 25.4 million people in the world have been granted legal refugee status, and over 68 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes, largely due to conflict or persecution. People who have refugee status often live in camps or countries where they are treated as second class citizens, barred from working or living with fewer protections than citizens. 

Low resettlement numbers here in the U.S. decreases the chances of reunification for families with some members who have already immigrated and were separated through war or immigration policy, significantly lengthening the time where they must live in uncertainty of seeing loved ones in their lifetime. The Refugee Wellness team has seen first hand that it's hard to heal from trauma when loved ones are still in danger and families are separated without knowing a timeline for reuniting. As policies change, distress grows as families cope with an uncertain future. Despite these new stresses, the team sees many examples of resilience and strength as families continue their dreams of starting a new life in the Triangle.

Changes to federal refugee resettlement policies also impact the resources available to serve new arrivals and refugee families who are already resettled in North Carolina, potentially cutting programs that provide resources to families after their initial financial support ends 3 months after arrival. Like the families they serve, the Refugee Wellness team is maintaining hope and working hard to secure funding so that families with refugee status living in the Triangle have access to mental and emotional care. 

The team of one full time staff and five MSW students started 3 community support groups, with 4 new groups starting in January. They did 4 community trainings on refugee mental health and trauma during the fall semester, and provided direct mental health services to 44 individuals between July and November. The Jordan Institute continues to provide support to the team as they write grants and plan to redesign mental healthcare in a way that is equitable, inclusive, and culturally appropriate for families with refugee status. Questions? Please email Marlowe Crews , MSW, Project Director.