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Shauna Acquavita, PhD, and Ruth Anne Van Loon, PhD, researchers on HRSA grant

Shauna Acquavita, PhD, and Ruth Anne Van Loon, PhD, researchers on HRSA grant
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Publish Date: 12/03/14
Media Contact: Angela Koenig, 513-558-4625
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Social Work Fellowships Funded by Federal Grant. Topic: At Risk Youth

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) School of Social Work have secured a $511,084 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for a program to provide masterís-level students specialized education and training to work with at-risk youth.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for UC and its students within the School of Social Work. The field of at-risk youth continues to be a vital element of society to study. This fellowship will prove to be invaluable in providing our social work students with the tools and skills they will need to successfully work in the area,Ē says assistant professor Shauna Acquavita, PhD, director of the fellowship and the grantís principal investigator.

The HRSA Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training for Professionals grant is titled "Preparing for Clinical Practice with At-Risk Children, Adolescents, and Transitional Youth: The Serving At-risk Youth Fellowship Experience (SAFE).Ē  Over the course of three years, the SAFE program will provide for 35 one-year student fellowships at the School of Social Workís graduate degree program within UCís College of Allied Health Sciences.     

Fellows will receive training and experience with children, adolescents and transitional youth (ages 16 to 25) who are at risk of developing or who have already developed a significant behavioral health disorder.  This will occur through: advanced coursework; educational seminars; an internship with at-risk children, adolescents and transitional youth in designated SAFE Program agencies; and a SAFE Capstone Project educating and promoting behavioral health wellness. The Ohio National Association of Social Work and Ohio River Valley Clinical Social Work Society will link students with mentors in the field. 

Not only will UCís social work students get to learn how to assess and treat at-risk youth early in their career, the program will also help enhance the workforce for practice with these populations in Hamilton and Clermont counties, says associate professor Ruth Anne Van Loon, PhD, co-investigator and fellowship co-director.

"Itís a win-win for UC and the local area,Ē Van Loon says.

Local partnering agencies on the grant include: the Young Child Institute of Central Clinic, Child Focus, the Childrenís Home of Cincinnati, Lifepoint Solutions (now part of Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services), Solutions Community Counseling Recovery Services, South Community and Lighthouse Youth Services.

Lighthouse has had a partnership with the School of Social Work and has been working with UC social work students for more than 25 years.

"We value the field placement experience that the students receive at Lighthouse and hope to be able to have more and better prepared students over the next few years. The children and youth we serve deserve the best possible care, and this grant will help to ensure that occurs in our community,Ē says Jean Sepate, chief operating officer of Lighthouse Youth Services.

"As a UC alumnus from the School of Social Work (`83), I am particularly excited about this award. The leadership and faculty are top notch, the program is rigorous, and this will only enhance the great learning that currently occurs there,Ē Sepate adds. 

For additional information, or to learn more about the student application process or training for the fellowship, please visit UCís School of Social Work or email


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