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Social Workers and Psychologists Chapter’s Clinical Professional Development program

Focus on soaring caseloads
New York Teacher

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Some 450 members of the Social Workers and Psychologists Chapter met at union headquarters on Jan. 31 for their eighth annual Clinical Professional Development program, where a big topic of discussion was how soaring caseloads are affecting their effectiveness in schools. Chapter Leader Vanessa Pressley noted, “We are being spread too thin,” pointing out that while the number of social workers and psychologists has not grown since the 1980s the schools they serve have increased from 1,000 to approximately 1,700. Among nonpublic Title I schools, the chapter members’ numbers have been cut in half. The daylong professional development program included two speakers who addressed issues of growing importance facing the chapter members in their work. Candida Brooks-Harrison of the National Association of Social Workers focused on the growing prevalence of attention deficit disorder among students and how to assist schools and students in dealing with it. Dr. Natalie Weder, a pediatric psychopharmacologist from the Child Mind Institute, provided guidance on dealing with the growing population of children with psychiatric disorders and understanding how their medications and the side effects are manifested and addressed. UFT President Michael Mulgrew and Vice President for Special Education Carmen Alvarez both were on hand. Despite the uphill struggle against work overload, Pressley said, “We try very hard to be a valuable resource to the schools and the community, and we are committed to the schools and the families we serve.”