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Bair Senior Capstone

PTSD- There is Nothing New Under the Sun: Soldiers' Homecoming and Reintegration Experiences Past and Present

The emotional impact of war on soldiers has been well documented, with mentions of sadness and guilt going back to veterans of the Trojan Wars in ancient Greece. And, although what was called "Shell Shock" in World War I and "Combat Stress Reaction" during the Vietnam War, now has a clinical designation: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), treating is no less problematic.

Elizabeth Bair '10 worked with Prof. Jessica Ritter and Washington County on a nine month practicum which focused on how government entities are working with returning veterans with PTSD as the focus of her Senior Capstone Project in social work. The results were eye-opening. She found there is still a heavy stigma about PTSD inside and outside the military. Once home, services are woefully inadequate, particularly for women. For instance, Washington County, which is working hard to help, has only four veterans services officers. Some 2,700 veterans returned to the county recently, with more on the way. Fortunately, a womens and children's home for PTSD sufferers is planned for the county and organizations like Pacific's School of Professional Psychology are helping."

"I was just floored with what they were dealing with. Twenty-four and 25-year-old men - they had come back just clearly lost."

Bair, whose main interest is the elderly and disabled, said the experience was very helpful as she moves on to graduate school in Pacific's Occupational Therapy program.

Title: Social Skills and Social Interaction in Early Childhood Development: Playing Well With Others Starts at a Young Age

Research studies have shown that social skills used in daily life facilitate communication and interaction among people. These skills influence our ability to make decisions, have flexible behaviors in diverse situations, and practice ways to communicate better. The lack of these skills in early childhood can negatively affect children as they grow into adults. This project applies Social Learning Theory in a local school classroom by teaching social skills in small multi-aged activity groups, hypothesizing that the children will improve their interaction with one another and will be capable of applying their new knowledge in their classroom, public, and home environments. Students were assessed on their ability to continuously apply these social skills, in which they display positive behavior. Challenges of working with multi-aged groups, the long-term effects, and the prospects of enhanced quality of life will also be discussed.

Why Don't Emancipated Foster Youth Go To College?

Each year in the state of Oregon, approximately 400 youth turn 18 and age out of the foster care system without the support of a legal guardian. Studies show these youth are at greater risk of poverty, homelessness, criminal involvement, early childbearing, and low educational attainment than the general population. According to researchers, only 50% of foster youth complete high school. The college attendance rate for foster youth who graduate from high school is 20%, compared to 60% of high school graduates in the general population. Child protective services agencies have been criticized for neglecting the educational needs of foster youth. Qualitative interviews were conducted with child protection caseworkers, foster parents, and child welfare advocates that influence legislative policies in order to examine what the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) and the state of Oregon could do differently to better prepare foster youth for post-secondary education.

It Takes a Village to Raise a Prostitute: Resources and Needs of Prostitution Rehabilitation Services in Portland Oregon

Portland is a hub for the sex industry in the Northwest United States. With the exception of certain counties in Nevada, it is home to the most de-regularized sex industry in the country. As a result, Prostitution thrives. Stigmatized by society and law enforcement alike, the mental and physical harms associated with prostitution causes this demographic to need specialized programs and services in order to fully recover. These needs include intensive counseling and stable, supportive housing. There are various non-profit agencies, as well as vice squads and detectives, working on prostitution rehabilitation in Portland. This project assesses non-profit and government agencies to determine what resources are available to prostitutes in Portland. Gaps in resources are identified and the needs of this vulnerable group are highlighted.

"You're Smart, You're Just not Trying": What Happens when Students with Learning Disabilities Believe They are Not Trying

What does it mean to be a part of a group you did not choose? Applying educational labels such as, Individualized Education Program, Special Education, or simply being placed in a "special" class can have unforeseen consequences. The literature suggests these consequences can be both positive and negative. The personal and social effects are often seen as unimportant because of the belief that the benefits are much more important and, over time, the child will benefit academically with the extra services provided. Although benefits can come from the label and the accommodations associated with it, teachers and peers who do not fully understand these labels often misinterpret them. This project looks at how being in these assigned groups effects students both academically and socially in their interactions with their teachers and peers. Understanding these ramifications can help inform teachers and shape school policy in ways they can better serve all students. Findings, limitations and the importance of teacher student relationships will be discussed.

The Outsiders: Building Communities for Disconnected Youth

Community resources are a critical component for youth involved in the juvenile justice system. For communities lacking adequate youth services, there is a greater propensity of continued delinquent behavior. This project examines the adequacy of community resources for adolescents of Washington County involved in the juvenile justice system and those at risk for such involvement. This project identifies and exposes the gaps in services that may lead to ill effects for the individual youth, the family, and the community as a whole. These findings come from assessing actual community resources through interviews of individual agencies and research, which culminated in the creation of a community resource inventory and exploring ideal community resources via surveys. National indicators of a healthy community, challenges of identifying community resources, and implications for communities will also be discussed.

Evaluating Burnout among Child Welfare Caseworkers in Beaverton

Child welfare caseworkers work directly with the some of the country's most vulnerable families. Their job is vital to society, yet there are multiple contributions and frustrations that lead to job burnout. Burnout is defined by the Child Welfare League of America as "a breakdown of the psychological defense [that] workers use to adapt and cope with intense job-related stressors and a syndrome in which a worker feels emotionally exhausted or fatigue, withdraws emotionally from their clients, and perceives a diminution of their achievements or accomplishments." A 440-hour social work practicum at the DHS office in Beaverton provided an opportunity to study this phenomenon in order to gain a better understanding of the underlying causes of burnout. A 19-question survey was administered to caseworkers from permanency and protective services units at DHS. The survey measured two types of burnout: client-related and work-related. This project will reveal the results of this survey and provide suggestions on what could be done to help prevent burnout among child welfare caseworkers.

"I Don't Want To Tell My Parents": Addressing Barriers To Accessing Health Care For Adolescents

To address the health needs of 117,000 uninsured youth in Oregon, the state has initiated forty-four School Based Health Centers (SBHCs) since 2007. This investment aims to increase access to healthcare of all youth, but some centers remain under-utilized by both insured and uninsured youth. This project focuses on addressing the barriers for students in accessing the services available at a local High School SBHC. Using quantitative and qualitative data from a school-wide survey, the views of 1,900 students illuminate areas of needed improvement and pathways for increasing utilization of healthcare facilities designed for adolescent use. Navigating the challenges of incorporating students' opinions on policies, especially around reproductive health in a rural community, will also be addressed.

Human Trafficking In Washington County? Why Child Welfare Caseworkers Need To Be Aware Of This Growing Problem

Human trafficking, and more specifically human sex trafficking, has recently been recognized as an emerging social problem requiring action by global, national and local government agencies. In spite of the increase in awareness, researchers, legislators, law enforcement and service providers have only just begun to scratch the surface of this concealed crime, especially on the local level. In Oregon, for instance, there is no substantive data on this phenomenon. The experiential learning that occurred during this 440 hour Social Work Capstone Practicum at Washington County's Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Division, located in Hillsboro, was a platform to develop an understanding of how and to what extent human sex trafficking is understood and assessed by caseworkers. A survey instrument was used to measure child welfare caseworkers' level of awareness about human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. This presentation will describe the connection between human/sex trafficking and Children's Protective Services and report findings concerning caseworkers' knowledge on the subject in Washington County's child welfare system.

Expanding Agency: The Necessity of Volunteer Coordination in Small Nonprofits

For many agencies, volunteer-power is crucial for sustainable operations. Research shows that in order to retain volunteers they must be satisfied, recognized and be utilized effectively. Because smaller organizations cannot typically afford the cost of a full-time volunteer coordinator, responsibility for retaining volunteers usually falls upon the shoulders of staff, already stretched thin. This project evaluates the impact of a newly appointed part-time volunteer coordinator hired by a local drop-in center for homeless youth. This position is being funded by a 10-month grant. To examine the effects of this position on an agency highly dependent on volunteers, consumers and volunteers were surveyed. This type of program evaluation had never before been attempted at the agency, and as it is related directly to the one-time grant sustaining the volunteer coordinator's position, findings will be used to acquire further funding of the position. Strengths, limitations, and the challenges in conducting program evaluation will be discussed.

Where the Horses Take You: Equine Facilitate Youth Empowerment Through Experiential Learning

For centuries horses played a fundamental role in the development of civilizations through trade, language and warfare. The co-evolution of horses and humans has driven researchers to study the phenomenon of the horse-human interaction and found that horses can have an effect on humans both psychologically and physiologically. This project looks at the ability of horses to positively influence at-risk youth. The Washington County Juvenile Department's the Sky's the Limit, a mentoring program for youth who are at-risk of gang involvement, has previously attempted to expose youth to horse related activities to give them a sense of accomplishment. Partnering with a local stable, a 10-week structured curriculum was developed based on experiential practices and empowerment theory. A pre and post evaluation was used to evaluate the progress and to compare the outcomes to youth who participated in the mentoring program only. Findings of the project, experiences of the youth and volunteers, and the challenges of coordinating such a project will also be discussed.

The Importance of Family Connections for Foster Youth in Washington County

On average, there are nearly 600,000 children in the U.S. foster care system every year. In 2009 there were 5,830 children in foster care on an average daily basis within the state of Oregon. Less than 30 percent of these children were placed with relatives. When children are removed from their home, they often lose their connection to friends, family members, their school and neighborhood. Family Finding is a program model that aids children in maintaining or reestablishing contact and relationships with those who love them. Several counties in Oregon have begun to implement Family Finding programs. Washington County's Family Finding program, Reconnecting Children with Families, was established in 2009. This presentation will provide an overview of Family Finding, its history, as well as how Washington County has implemented their unique version of the Family Finding model and its progress to date.