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Department of Social Work to Host 14th Annual Community Forum March 24

March 7, 2017

KUTZTOWN, Pa. - The Kutztown University Department of Social Work will host its 14th annual community forum on Friday, March 24, from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. in Schaeffer Auditorium.  This year's topic, "Family in Environment: Part I-Incarceration," raises awareness of issues surrounding incarceration and its impact on families in the social environment.  It is part one of a three year series.

Presenters will include John E. Wetzel, secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections; State Senator Judith Schwank; Richard Smith, Director, Liberty Partnerships Program; Steven Pagden, MSW, Lancaster County Reentry Management Organization; Dr. H. Jean Wright II, Philadelphia Behavioral Health and Justice-Related Services Division; Ann Schwartzman, Pennsylvania Prison Society; Liz Ryan, president & CEO, Youth First Initiative; Darius Reed, Community Supervision, Washington, DC;  and Johanna Byrd, ACSW, executive director, National Association of Social Workers PA.  

Special guests will include students from Kutztown Middle School who will present a video they created based on their research on Eastern State Penitentiary.  They will be recognized for their contributions to this important topic. 

According to the Vera Institute of Justice, in 2014 Pennsylvania had a prison incarceration rate (per 100,000) of 583, with Lehigh County at 656, Berks at 576, and Philadelphia at 1358.  Those rates exceed those of the United States overall (326), New York (392), New Jersey (359), and exceed that of most other nations.  With emphasis on the family as the most important social institution and recognition of recent protests pertaining to incarceration matters, experts will identify and promote best practices that will enable social work professionals and others to serve as catalysts to develop action plans and strengthen alliances across the practice continuum in this region.

Community leaders, agency executives, policy makers, social workers, human services professionals, alumni, faculty, staff, and students will participate in the day-long event.    

A panel question and answer period will be held from 11:15 to 11:45 a.m. and from 3:30 - 4 p.m. (media welcome).  The annual $1,000 Diversity Prize, a competition cash award, funded by the Social Work faculty, recognizing the undergraduate and graduate level social work students whose celebrations of diversity are judged as the best, will be presented.  Congratulatory remarks and proclamation of March as Social Work Month will be provided by State Senator Schwank along with Johanna Byrd, ACSW, executive director, National Association of Social Workers-Pennsylvania (media welcome).

Up to six continuing education credits (including 3 ethics credits) will be available for licensed social workers, marriage and family therapists and professional counselors.  Poised to respond to the changing needs of the region, the Department of Social Work at KU aspires to create opportunities for individual fulfillment and societal contribution in the entire regional community.

For more information, please click here or contact Dr. Sharon Lyter, Forum chair, KU Department of Social Work, at 610-683-4235 or