Social Work to Host 17th Annual Community Forum March 19

Kutztown campus photo.

The Kutztown University Department of Social Work will host its 17th annual Community Forum 8:45 to 4 p.m., Friday, March 19. The topic for this year's virtual event, "Education Enterprise in Transition: A Call to Action," raises awareness of issues surrounding the education enterprise and its intersection with families and the community, recognizing the urgent need for school social workers. Recent events, including the Chicago and Los Angeles school strikes, confirm the need for a more robust presence of school social work services nationwide.

Current issues demanding attention include school violence, bullying, families in crisis, trauma history, food and housing insecurities and mental and emotional distress. These issues impact the nation's – and also the region's – youth and consequently a demand for proper credentialing and increased utilization of school social workers.

The morning will include a presentation by Noe Ortega, acting secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and executive deputy secretary, Pam Smith. Other presenters will include:

  • John Ward, dean, KU College of Education
  • George Ioannidis, superintendent, Spring Grove Area School District
  • John Vafeas, chair, KU Department of Social Work, founder of the Center for the Study of School Social Work
  • Dee Stalnecker, school social worker, vice president of the Pennsylvania Association of School Social Work Personnel (PASSWP) and board member of the School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA)
  • Joseph Werner, school social worker, PASSWP president; member of Governor Wolf’s Juvenile Justice Task Force
  • Matthew Cuellar,assistant professor, Department of Social Work and Child Advocacy, Montclair State University
  • Samantha Coyle, assistant professor, Department of Psychology, Montclair State University
  • Jonathan Kremser, chair, KU Department of Criminal Justice
  • Alicia Chico, school social worker

The annual $1,000 Diversity Prize will be presented, a competition cash award funded by the social work faculty in recognition of undergraduate and graduate level social work students who excel in celebration of diversity.

Community leaders, agency executives, policymakers, social workers, human services professionals, alumni, faculty, staff and students will participate in the daylong event. A panel question and answer period will be held at the close of the morning and afternoon sessions.

Up to six continuing education credits (including three ethics credits) will be available for licensed social workers, marriage and family therapists and professional counselors. The Department of Social Work (BSW, MSW, DSW) aspires to provide high quality, nationally-accredited curricula and program activities that respond to the diverse and ever-changing social needs of our rural, suburban and urban communities, students, employers and the profession of social work.

For more information, please visit our website or contact Dr. Sharon Lyter, forum chair, KU Department of Social Work, at