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Alumni and the NC Child Welfare Education Collaborative help students learn about home visits

Story by Alycia Blackwell-Pittman, NC Child Welfare Education Collaborative

On Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, the NC Child Welfare Education Collaborative, which is based at the UNC School of Social Work, co-hosted Child Welfare Simulation Practice Labs in conjunction with UNC-Wilmington Schools of Nursing and Social Work. This event was designed to give social work students realistic exposure to practice skills needed to engage in home visits with involuntary clients. Nursing students and social work students engaged in simulated medical visits to illustrate how child welfare intersects with the medical profession.

UNC-CH School of Social Work alumna, and Collaborative graduate, Holly Yeager-Royals, MSW ’04, is an adjunct professor at UNC-W and teaches their child welfare course. Yeager-Royals is also one of the primary coordinators for the exiting event. She is also employed full-time at New Hannover County DSS in child protective services.

Students had the opportunity to complete mock home visits in a simulated lab. The lab is structured just like a real apartment. There was a two-way observation window and students were given a scenario to conduct mock home visits. Collaborative graduate, and UNC- Chapel Hill School of Social Work alumna Kourtney Taperek, MSW ’10, played the role of the parent. ECU alumna and Collaborative Graduate, Laura Ankrah played the role of the grandmother. Both gave authentic representations of the challenges that social workers face when assessing child safety in homes where there are allegations of abuse or neglect.

Additionally, students had the opportunity to engage in mock medical visits in a simulated hospital setting. Hired professional actors played the roles of a caregiver, and a child suspected to have been maltreated. UNC-W nursing students gained experience in interacting with families involved in the child welfare system by participating in the simulation exercises. Social work students played the role of CPS investigative assessors to interview the family about the allegations. This was an excellent opportunity for students to get firsthand experience in conducting visits with families, as well as engaging with medical professionals.

The day-long event also included a Lunch and Learn workshop from the NC Child Medical Evaluation Program. Collaborative graduate, and UNC School of Social Work alumna, Stacey Craven, LCSW, MSW ’11, presented the workshop. Stacey is a social work practitioner and program manager of NC CMEP, which is part of the UNC-CH Hospital Department of Pediatrics. Craven’s role at CMEP is to assist with guidance concerning the need for medical and family evaluations when children are alleged to have been abused or significantly neglected. She also provides social work consultations, and coordinates medical and psychological services for children and families affected by abuse or severe neglect.

Over 30 students had the opportunity to participate in this unique multidisciplinary event. Both social work and nursing students appreciated the realistic illustration of practice skills needed to work with involuntary clients in home and medical settings. The Collaborative and UNC-W look forward to continued partnerships in providing students with additional opportunities to engage in interdisciplinary learning activities in simulated environments.

For more information about the NC Child Welfare Education Collaborative, please contact Alycia Blackwell-Pittman at