The Gannon University Social Work Program will be lending its time Friday to host the 11th annual Social Work Conference for the greater Erie area in conjunction with the efforts of the Erie County Policy and Planning Council for Children and Families.
The Yehl Ballroom of Gannon’s Waldron Campus Center will be the location for the event, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The conference is an example of the university’s many community outreach programs that also include university funded work-study positions, service learning opportunities, and various Catholic social teaching experiences throughout the country.
“Facilitating these relationships with the community benefits all parties involved,” explained AJ Schumacher, a junior legal studies major. These programs allow students to “engage in real world applications that apply the information they have learned in the class room,” and he said, “this also clearly benefits the positive development of Erie.”
The conference is scheduled to discuss topics that focus on the protection and prevention against crime in the Erie area by targeting children enrolled in primary and secondary learning institutions.
Jared Schaaf, a freshman history major, said he believes events like this address the community directly in an important way.
“We owe it to the community we live in to give other Erie residents the same opportunity,” he said. “It’s the opportunity to attend post-secondary education facilities and avoid crime.”
The relation to the area’s poverty level demographic and violence will be discussed at the conference with specific attention given to the topics of gun violence and domestic violence.
There will also be attention directed to the effectiveness of current task forces created to combat the issue of violence will also be examined. Social workers, neighborhood watch groups and law enforcement task forces will be analyzed. Communities That Care is a model first introduced to Erie County in 1994 through a state- funded program. This model will be utilized throughout the conference as a framework for discussion. When it was created the Communities That Care model was intended to help initiate a prevention effort against delinquency by targeting students in kindergarten through fourth grade.
The program was first administered at Edison Elementary School on Erie’s east side. Prevention efforts, gifted by the Communities That Care model, including risk identification and positive development of each individual student will be discussed in detail. The conference is intended to develop strategies that further these goals by utilizing technology and communication.
The surveys will be reviewed in light of the data provided by the Pennsylvania Youth Survey that offers information on youth behaviors and attitudes. The surveys are administered by the Erie County Policy and Planning Council for Children and Families to sixth-, eighth-, 10th-, and 12th-graders throughout the area.
Amy Eisert, director of the Mercyhurst University Civic Institute, and Joseph Markiewicz, project director for the Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Organizational Research & Evaluation at Penn State Behrend, will be addressing the conference attendees to discuss their expertise in the areas to be discussed. The conference is free to students with college IDs and the $40 registration fee for all other attendees includes four continuing education credits for social work professionals.