Center for the Study of School Social Work


Establish school social work as an essential profession in the educational enterprise.


To prepare new school social workers and support existing school social workers to work in the school community and integrate the profession into that community; and to help schools recognize the purpose and value of school social workers.


1) Prepare new social workers.

2) Support existing school social workers.

3) Integrate the profession into the school community.

4) Help educational agencies recognize the purpose and value of social work.

Coordinating Committee

John Vafeas, LSW, DSW - Acting Director

Janice Gasker, LCSW, DSW

Sharon Lyter, LCSW, MSW, Ph.D.

  • Professional and Scientific Associates

    Sylvia A. Bekele, DSW, School Social Worker

    Alicia Chico, LSW, DSW, School Social Worker

    Matthew Cuellar, MSW, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Montclair State University

    Gina Daniel, KU|MU DSW Student & School Social Worker

    Janice Gasker, DSW, LCSW, Professor and Director KU BSW program

    Jami Imhof, DSW Student

    Diane Irish, DSW, School Social Worker

    George W. Ioannidis, Ed.D., Superintendent, Spring Grove School District

    Julie Lewellyn, Ph.D., LCSW, Assistant Professor, Kutztown University, Department of Social Work

    Sharon Lyter, LCSW, MSW, Ph.D., Professor and Director KU|MU DSW program

    Jen Marshall, LSW KU|MU DSW student & School Social Worker

    Karla Matamoros, LSW Home and School Visitor, East Penn School District

    Sheryl McKlveen, DSW Student

    Nikki Snyder, LSW, DSW, Medical Social Worker

    Dee L. Stalnecker, LSW, BCBA, DSW, School Social Worker, VP PASSWP, NE Rep. SWAA

    Nicole Ukaegbu, KU|MU DSW student & School Social Worker, Philadelphia School District

    John Vafeas, Professor & Chair, Kutztown University, Department of Social Work

    John Ward, PhD, Dean, College of Education, Kutztown University

    Joe Werner, MSW, LSW, HSV, President PASSWP

  • Scholars in Residence

    Alicia Chico

    The Role of Social Workers in the Development and implementation of Threat Assessment Teams—A comprehensive Defense Topic

    Jen Marshall

    Awareness of and Value Placed on School Social Work: A Study of Pennsylvania's Public School Administrators - A Dissertation Defense Topic

    Supporting School Social Workers’ professional Development, a fifteen-hour training course

    Nicole Ukaegbu

    Risk factors of burnout for child welfare social work professionals in Pennsylvania, A dissertation in progress.

  • Research & Publications
  • Community Activities & Presentations

    17TH ANNUAL COMMUNITY FORUM: Education Enterprise in Transition: A Call to Action. March 19, 2021

    McKlveen, Sheryl, acquired a $65,000 grant under Kutztown Strong to bring School Social Work to the area’s School Districts (October 16, 2020)

    Bernini, Rachel, Oral Dissertation Presentation, Understanding Effective Supervision and the Relationship Between Supervision Effectiveness and Education (March 20, 2020)

    Snyder, Nikki, Oral Dissertation Presentation, School Social Work Certification: A Curriculum Analysis (April 6, 2020)

    Vafeas, John, Department of Social Work, Kutztown University, Marshall, Jennifer, Owen J. Roberts School District, Pottstown, PA,  December 16, 2019, The Role and Function of School Social Work, Kutztown University, Kutztown, PA

    Dr. Conahan is Board Consultant for Kutztown Strong, Kutztown, PA. AY 2016-2017

    Lee, A and Svistova, J. (2018, September) Community Needs Assessment of Kutztown,
    Fleetwood, and Brandywine, PA: Report of Findings. Friend Inc. Board meeting, Kutztown, PA.

     Conahan, J., Toth, C. & McKlveen, S.(BSW student), 2018, Case Study: Kutztown Strong Collaboration with an Engaged University

    For upcoming publication, community responses to the lives lost due to the current opioid epidemic vary. Presence of leadership, availability of resources, skills in community organization and volunteerism rates all play a significant role in a community's capacity to respond and create change at the population level.  The case study will examine one community's efforts to meet the needs in their area by defining the local substance abuse problem and effectively bringing change to produce positive outcomes.

    Jablonski, S. & Stoeffler, S.W. (2018, April). Gender-specific interventions and adolescent females. Social Inclusion and Social Justice Conference, Shippensburg, PA. 

    Wei, F. H., November 2017. Responding to a Community's Questions Regarding Local Youth's Substance Use Behaviors.

    Community-specific analysis of Kutztown's Pennsylvania Youth Survey data to identify the risk and protective factors that characterized local youth reporting substance use behaviors.  The results found that parents' attitude towards illegal substances use, family history of antisocial behavior, and youth peer's attitude toward illegal substance use play significant roles in youth substance abuse behaviors.

    Bender, W., October 2017. School-based Substance Abuse Prevention Program Outcomes.

    Having an extensive background in the administration of chemical dependency and mental health programs that spans more than 30 years, Prof. Bender discussed the history and development of the LifeSkills program, its purpose, and its learning objectives. 

    Data gathered by teachers was then summarized collaboratively by Kutztown Strong staff and faculty of the Kutztown University, Department of Social Work, and Institute of Addiction Studies found 78 percent of the youth had a better understanding of the harmful effects of drug use after completing the course. Additionally, 62 percent of the students reported they were now less likely to approve of peer's use of drugs, 43 percent increased skills in knowing alternate means of reducing anxiety, and 29 percent increased their knowledge of media's potential negative influence on behavior.

    Wei, FangHsun, Stoeffler, Stephen & Bordo, Nicollette, Department of Social Work, October 7, 2016. Faculty-Student presentation. The influences that affect education in homeless youth.Pennsylvania Association of Undergraduates Social Work Education (PAUSWE), King of Prussia, PA.  

    Toth, C. & McKlveen, S. (BSW student), 2016, Kutztown Community Youth Survey

    The Pennsylvania Youth Survey is an assessment tool used to monitor youth substance use behaviors and trends. Assessment is free to any public, private or charter school in the state of Pennsylvania. The survey instrument is administered to students in the 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades every odd-numbered calendar year. Kutztown Strong, driven by the values of social justice, wisdom, and knowledge, set a goal to hear the voices of all the students in their school district. Soliciting the services of the Institute of Addiction Studies enabled the coalition to independently take responsibility for conducting the survey in the years the state did not. Data analysis by Wei, F. & Stere, M. J. (MSW student)

    Chaundy, L.M., Department of Social Work, November 14, 2014.  Family Conflicts and Its Effects on Educational Outcomes in the Acculturation Experience. Third Annual Conference on Social Work in the Global Environment. Kutztown, PA.

    Bender, W.F., Department of Social Work, November 13, 2014. Teen Pregnancy Collaborative-Albright College. Co-County Wellness Services/Berks AIDS Network, Reading, PA.

    Hanna, E., April 25, 2013, Developing Effective Parenting Skills for Students of All Ages, community workshop for the Fleetwood Area School District, Fleetwood High School Auditorium, Fleetwood, PA.

  • Related Courses

    SWK502: Social Work Crisis Intervention with Families

    SWK507: Differential Assessment Techniques for Social Workers

    SWK508: Maltreatment in the Family: Social Work Practice

    SWK536: Skills for Working with the New Immigrant Family

    SWK545: Child Permanence and the Family-In-Environment

    SWK555: Applied Family Policy and Family Service Programs

    SWK574: Family Mediation

  • Agencies Hosting Interns
  • Legislative Links
  • Additional Resources & Useful Links