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Social work students explore foster care policy at 10th Annual James L. Stone Legislative Policy Symposium

October 23, 2008

Michele Barrett
(315) 443-6172

Michele Barrett

The critical role social workers and other human service professionals must play as advocates for young adults transitioning from foster care to independent living is the focus of the 10th Annual James L. Stone Legislative Policy Symposium presented by the Syracuse University College of Human Ecology's School of Social Work. The event will take place Monday, Oct. 27, in the Onondaga County Legislative Chambers, 401 Montgomery St., with an audience to include students, faculty and social workers in the community.

The formal program, "Transitioning Out of Foster Care: Addressing the Unintended Consequences of Social Policy," will examine implications of problems associated with aging out of foster care; the existing service system and its limitations in New York state and Onondaga County; political, budgetary, social and ethical forces advancing and retarding reforms and funding; and various programmatic and policy interventions.

"Under the best of circumstances, the transition to adulthood and independence is challenging," says Jennifer Propp, assistant professor of social work and conference planning committee member. "For youth exiting out of foster care without healthy family connections, an adoptive home or other adult support, the barriers can be almost insurmountable."

Gerald Mallon, a professor at Hunter College's School of Social Work and director of the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning (NRCFCPPP) will keynote the conference, discussing the process of youth transitioning from foster care to adulthood and the concerns this issue raises regarding policy. Following his presentation, a panel of foster care "graduates" will discuss the personal and policy implications of their and others' experiences transitioning out of foster care. State Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D-North Syracuse) will discuss the importance of social worker engagement in the legislative and social policy process, and Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-Queens) will provide an overview of current legislation addressing this issue.

Later in the day, an interactive panel discussion will focus on administrative policy and practice implications of aging out of the foster care system. Panelists include Brian McKee, deputy commissioner of the Onondaga County Department of Social Services; Jack Klump, director of the Syracuse Regional Office of the New York State Office of Children & Family Services; and Tracy Walker, School of Social Work internship placement coordinator and former director of child & family services at Liberty Resources.

The James L. Stone Legislative Policy Symposium is made possible by School of Social Work alumnus James Stone G'64, who has served as commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health and currently chairs the advisory board of the College of Human Ecology. "We are grateful to Jim Stone for his ongoing support and visionary leadership that has made this annual symposium possible for the past 10 years," says Diane Lyden Murphy, dean of the College of Human Ecology. "Year after year, this event allows future professionals in social work and human services the chance to hear from leading experts on important social policy issues, further strengthening their commitment to participate, as professionals and citizens, in advancing the ideas and values of the profession through involvement in all aspects of the policy process."

For more information about the 10th Annual James L. Stone Legislative Policy Symposium, contact the conference coordinator, Danielle LeClair at or Eric Kingson, professor in the School of Social Work, at (315) 443-1838.

About the College of Human Ecology at Syracuse University

The College of Human Ecology is dedicated to excellence in professional academic education and integrates Scholarship in Action as a philosophy and method in all of its degree programs. The college brings together a rich history of academic programs whose signatures of social responsibility and justice join new and evolving majors reflective of educating global citizens whose leadership can--and does--change the places and peoples where they live and work.

Previously known as the College of Human Services and Health Professions until it was renamed in 2007, the College of Human Ecology hosts seven departments with strong roots in SU history: Child and Family Studies; Health and Wellness; Hospitality Management; Marriage and Family Therapy; Nutrition Science and Dietetics; Sport Management; and the School of Social Work.

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