The Hartford/GSA National Center on Gerontological Social Work Excellence has named Hunter College, the University of Southern California, and the University of Washington as the newest locations of Hartford Centers of Excellence in Geriatric Social Work. Among these centers' many activities, they will focus on building relationships with local health and social service professionals, and form regional consortia of social work field agencies serving older adults to support skill-building opportunities for personnel.
The National Center was established through a three-year, $1.35 million grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation to The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) in February 2013. Nora OBrien-Suric, PhD, is serving as the foundation's senior program officer for this grant.
"The new centers will improve the interface between practice and academia in order to strengthen the services that improve the health of older people," said OBrien-Suric. "They will achieve this by building upon the work that the foundation has supported for more than a decade in the areas of practice, education, and academic leadership development."
The Hartford Center at Hunter College will be led by GSA Fellow Carmen Morano, PhD, who also serves as co-director of the Association for Gerontology Education in Social Work and managing editor of the Journal of Gerontological Social Work. GSA member Karen Lincoln, PhD, will lead the Hartford Center at the University of Southern California, where she currently is the associate director of the Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging. And GSA Fellow Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen, PhD, will lead the Hartford Center at the University of Washington, where she serves as director of the Institute for Multigenerational Health.
"It is critical that, as a profession, we begin to seriously address the needs of the growing cohort of diverse older adults," said Jacqueline B. Mondros, DSW, dean of the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. "I am thrilled that Silberman will be in the vanguard of the national social work effort to build the knowledge base, the workforce, and the policy to support their independence and care."
Marilyn Flynn, PhD, dean of the University of California School of Social Work, said the selection as a Hartford Center was "an exceptional opportunity and a proud moment."
"The USC School of Social Work has been developing programs of research and community outreach through our Roybal Institute on Aging for the past five years," Flynn said. "With the deeply welcomed opportunity to establish a Hartford Academic Center of Excellence in Geriatric Social Work, we will now be able to build a powerful curriculum in this area, add to community capacity for serving older people, and introduce innovative technologies for teaching and learning."
Eddie Uehara, PhD, dean of the University of Washington School of Social Work, also said that being selected as the location of a Hartford Center was "a great honor."
"This initiative builds on our long-standing partnership with the Hartford Foundation and GSA to improve the quality of life for older adults — especially those in historically vulnerable groups. As a Center of Excellence, we can deepen our research, practice models and outreach to reduce health disparities, reinforce support systems, and ultimately enrich lives," Uehara said.
The new centers join two established earlier this year at Boston College and the University of Michigan, which are headed by GSA Fellows James Lubben, DSW, MPH, and Ruth Dunkle, PhD, MSW, respectively.
Each center is expected to provide leadership for social work educators; build bridges to local health professionals, such as those employed by Area Agencies on Aging; form regional consortia of social work field agencies serving older adults and their families, designed to address gaps in education and training on aging among these local agencies; engage in inter-professional collaborations with other departments of the university, with other professional groups within the region, and with Hartford Centers of Excellence in medicine and nursing; provide mentoring to Hartford-funded researchers based at the U.S. Veterans Administration; create and evaluate training models that translate new knowledge into practice and policy; and seek additional support to sustain the Social Work Centers.
The grant that established the National Center was designed to build upon the successes of the Hartford Geriatric Social Work Initiative (HGSWI), which has been coordinated by GSA since 1999 and has supported over 200 doctoral fellows and faculty scholars who are helping to build a workforce of social workers trained and educated in geriatrics.
In addition to founding the five Hartford Academic Centers of Excellence in Geriatric Social Work, the National Center will collaborate with the VA to develop social work research leaders to help advance evidence-based knowledge related to VA practice in aging; mobilize the current HGSWI Alumni Network by using their expertise to impact practice and policy; and seek funding from a variety of sources to support and expand its objectives and functions, as well as ensure its sustainability.
The The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,400+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA's structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational branch, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.
The John A. Hartford Foundation is a private philanthropy working to improve the health of older Americans. After three decades of championing research and education in geriatric medicine, nursing, and social work, today the Foundation pursues opportunities to put geriatrics expertise to work in all health care settings by advancing practice change and innovation, supporting team-based care through interdisciplinary education of all health care providers, supporting policies and regulations that promote better care, and developing and disseminating new evidence-based models that deliver better, more cost-effective health care. The Foundation was established by John A. Hartford in 1929. Mr. Hartford and his brother, George L. Hartford, both former chief executives of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (the A&P grocery chain), left the bulk of their estates to the Foundation upon their deaths in the 1950s. Additional information about the Foundation and its programs is available at http://www.jhartfound.org.
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