BxD Social Workers and Advocates to present at the 2015 NOFSW Conference

On August 21-23, 2015, four of The Bronx Defenders’ Social Workers and Civil Legal Advocates will be presenting on two panels at the 2015 National Organization of Forensic Social Work (NOFSW) Conference in Arlington, VA. The 32nd Annual NOFSW Conference, entitled “Forensic Practice: Promoting Social Justice for All Through Policy and Practice Reform,” is committed to advancing a new century of social justice, dignity, respect, and acceptance for all persons and to increasing attendees’ knowledge, values, and skills for working with forensic populations in healthcare, social service, and legal settings, including the courts and corrections.

Bronx Defenders presenting at the conference include Civil Legal Advocate Maria Monica Andia, Social Worker Sarah Knight, Social Worker Julie Smyth, and Supervising Social Worker Lauren Harris. They will be presenting on the following:

Presentation: The Criminalization of Immigrants: Opportunities for Social Work in Removal Defense

Presenters: Maria Monica Andia, BSW, Sarah Knight MSW, Brittany Larson, LMSW

Under the Obama administration, deportations have been occurring at unprecedented numbers. The drastic jump in deportations is a consequence of the increased cooperation between local law enforcement agencies and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the increasing criminalization of immigrants through the Criminal Justice system. Our ethics as social workers call us to recognize the dignity and worth of every person, to understand the person in their environment, and to work at both micro and macro levels to address injustices that have disproportionate effects on oppressed communities. As such, social workers should develop our understanding of the legal issues facing immigrants, build our platform as active participants in the legal representation of immigrants, and empower our profession to be a part of positive systemic change in the era of mass deportation.

This presentation will provide an overview of the interconnected nature between the Criminal Justice and Immigration systems and the consequences of this overlap for immigrant communities that social workers serve. The program will be facilitated from the perspective of social workers in a two different public defender offices. The focal point of the presentation is the role of social work in deportation defense. We believe that legal and social work collaboration in deportation defense is a new partnership that allows for nuanced and creative ways to meet the needs of our non-citizen clients.

The presentation will meet the following learning objectives: who is being deported and why; what happens in deportation proceedings and how can social workers be involved; and how can social workers across practice areas better serve immigrant clients and stand up to the national epidemic of mass deportation.

Presentation: Interviewing Adolescents: Concrete skills informed by cultural humility and emerging neuroscience research

Primary Presenter: Julie Smyth LMSW
Co-Presenters: Lauren Harris, LMSW

A basic and critical tenant of culturally competent social work practice is to empathize and immerse oneself into the experience of another, whose life experience may be radically different than the advocate or practitioner’s own experience. Within the juvenile justice system, reconnecting with the mindset of an adolescent can be challenging. Immersing oneself into a youth’s experience involves skillful, empathic, structured interviewing skills as well as a basic framework of current neuroscience research about the adolescent brain and subsequent behavior. Neuroscience research is continuing to affirm that the prefrontal cortex, the brain which control impulses and rational thought, are underdeveloped through age 25. An immature prefrontal cortex contributes to the reasons youth are easily influenced by their peers and have difficulty thinking forward to the impact of their actions. The presenters will conduct a workshop presenting trauma-informed interviewing skills informed by neuroscience research in order to better understand, treat, connect with and advocate for youth in the criminal justice system.

To learn more about the conference and to register, click here.