In Year 2 of the National Homelessness Social Work Initiative, the National Center for Excellence in Homeless Services (NCEHS) selected the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) School of Social Work (SSW) to be one of six Regional Hub Leader Schools.

CSULB is one of two Regional Hub Leaders in California (the other is USC, which will be featured in an upcoming post). The CSULB SSW strives to be student-centered, to engage in collaborative, community-based research, and to provide meaningful service to the community and the profession. They have consistently demonstrated a commitment to homelessness services, including providing several options for field placements in homeless service agencies and now offering a specialized advanced practice elective covering interventions with homeless populations.

Faculty at the SSW are committed to addressing homelessness in their community and nationally. Dr. Nancy Meyer-Adams, Director of the SSW, actively participates in and supports NCEHS activities. Additionally, Dr. Rashida Crutchfield (CSULB) leads an important project on the prevalence of food insecurity and homelessness among students across CSU’s 23 campuses. This ongoing mixed-method study is supported through a grant from the CSU Chancellor’s Office. Dr. Jennifer Maguire, faculty at CSU Humboldt, recently joined as co-principal investigator. This work has gained national media attention, with Rolling Stone quoting Dr. Crutchfield in a piece on homelessness among college students. This past June, a Conference on Student Food and Housing Security convened 180 staff, faculty, administrators, and students from across CSU’s campuses to present current research and practice, develop inter-campus partnerships and workgroups, and increase collaboration. This conference received media coverage in the LA Times and the Long Beach Press Telegram.

As a Regional Hub Leader, CSULB has committed to two main activities. First, they are using Dr. Crutchfield’s innovative study to provide CSU a list of best practices to support system-wide policy for providing programs and services to displaced and food insecure students. Recognizing the importance and timeliness of this work, they are also focused on continuing to disseminate findings and best practice ideas through regional and national conferences.

Second, the SSW continues to build partnerships with homelessness programs in Long Beach and throughout Los Angeles County, Sonoma County, and Ventura County to further expand field placement options for students. Additionally, the school has partnered with other social work programs in the region, including ten CSU schools (Fullerton, Fresno, San Bernardino, Sacramento, San Diego, East Bay, Chico, Northridge, Humboldt, San Marcos, and Monterey Bay), as well as UCLA and Azusa Pacific. The following are examples of activities from these school partners:

CSU Northridge joined CSULB and CSU Chico to work with their Office of Student Affairs and Student Involvement to implement a grant that will have MSW interns assisting students in applying for Cal Fresh assistance.

  • CSU San Marcos is collaborating with their Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) clinic to increase understanding of the value of hiring a social worker at SHCS to provide students with guidance regarding homeless resources.
  • CSU Monterey Bay, in response to pressing needs in their region for homeless services and a competent homeless service workforce, engaged their county’s Office of Behavioral Health to fund an MSW field placement unit in Salinas’ Chinatown. Geographically isolated and historically marginalized, Salinas’ Chinatown has seen dramatic growth in its homeless population over the past two years. This specialized community-based field experience provides outreach, service coordination, group work, education, and support to residents of this disenfranchised community.
  • At Azusa Pacific, 75 BSW students partner with the Salvation Army in Pasadena, CA each year to help implement “Homeless Connect Day”, an event that brings together a range of services for people experiencing homelessness in one place. Students serve as intake coordinators and help facilitate service connections. Also, this past spring, the school sponsored a mini-conference titled “Faith-Based Solutions: Christians Partnering to Address Poverty and Homelessness”. The conference targeted faith-based providers in the East San Gabriel Valley to improve collaboration, service coordination, and dialogue about more effectively meeting the needs in the area.
  • For the past two years, MSW students at CSU Fullerton have participated in “Box City”, a homelessness awareness and empathy building effort that culminates in a night spent in a cardboard box. The project is linked to a course that involves a prolonged period of preparation, fundraising, and service provision. Over two years, students participating in Box City raised $11,643 in cash, collected $19,167 worth of in-kind donations, and devoted 4,692 hours of service to the homeless.

Like this post?

Check out this one that provides an overview of Dr. Rashida Crutchfield’s study.

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