Social Work in the Public Eye

President Trump’s urging to deport the estimated 11 million people in the U.S. who are undocumented is causing fear among immigrant communities, according to an article in Time magazine. The new approach has led to a boom of new arrests.

“When everyone’s a target, no one is safe,” said NASW member Luis Zayas, dean of the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin, who was interviewed for the story.

The article also focused on the trauma children of undocumented immigrants face. A number of recent research papers have reported that the prospect of losing one’s parent can inflict psychological damage on a child, the article says.

“These kids are under constant, extreme levels of psychological stress that other children don’t have to endure,” Zayas told Time. “It affects the child’s educational performance, their developmental trajectories, how they achieve things. It affects the entire neurobiology of a child.”

When it’s time for somebody to be released from prison, jail or juvenile detention, the same questions come up, according to an article published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Is there anybody they can live with? Is there anybody who can give them a ride?

NASW member Carrie Pettus-Davis, an assistant professor of social work at Washington University, is quoted in the story, saying, “The question that we have to start asking is not is there anybody, but how do we increase the likelihood and the amount of positive influences to help support people as they get out?”

The story explains that Pettus-Davis uses the lens of social work and evidence-based practices to find and expand programs that prevent recidivism, while creating policies that allow those changes to be implemented.

Pettus-Davis co-founded the Smart Decarceration Initiative at Washington University in 2014. She also founded the Concordance Institute for Advancing Social Justice in 2015.

The New York Times interviewed NASW member Carla Naumburg for an article about ways to raise a resilient child. Resilience depends on an understanding that emotions — even those considered “negative,” like sadness, grief or anger — aren’t a problem to be fixed, but a natural consequence of being human, the article says.

“The thing about emotions is that they don’t last forever; there’s a beginning, middle and end to all of them,” says Naumburg, a clinical social worker and author of “Ready, Set, Breathe: Practicing Mindfulness With Your Children for Fewer Meltdowns and a More Peaceful Family.”

Parents often ask “why” about a child’s unwanted behavior. Naumburg says in the article that asking ourselves, “Why am I responding this way?” may be a more useful question.

According to a 2013 American Psychological Association study, teens in the United States are even more stressed out than adults, says a story in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

NASW member Erin Doerwald, a licensed clinical social worker and the program director at the SKY Center (New Mexico Suicide Intervention Project), is quoted in the story.

She said teens have to deal “with all the age-old troubles of the human condition while also figuring out how to live in a society with a collective ADHD and disconnect from nature, a world that is overscheduled, chronically sleep-deprived, and has essentially forgotten how to slow down.”

“Depression and anxiety are way on the rise, and there has to be a correlation to the rapid rise of connectivity,” Doerwald is quoted as saying.

The SKY Center offers a tool box for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The tool kit has six “facets,” each with multiple practices. For examples, one is on self-regulation, the ability to manage moods.

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