Social Work Faculty Produce Helpful Content

May 15, 2020

The Intermediate Unit 1 is using the audio and video content to help its staff and area school districts navigate issues related to COVID-19.

sheri boyle

Dr. Sheri Boyle, chair of Cal U's Social Work Department, helped to facilitate the collaboration with Intermediate Unit 1.

The Social Work Department at California University of Pennsylvania is collaborating with Intermediate Unit 1 to provide community support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We wanted to help in the virtual world,” said Joseph Mahoney, director of behavioral and mental health/social work services for IU1, which serves school districts in Washington, Fayette and Greene counties. 

“We wanted to support mental health and frontline workers who may be dealing with those who have been directly impacted financially or from the virus itself. 

Learn more about Cal U's MSW and BSW programs.

“There is so much uncertainty, and everyone on some level is impacted by what is going on. Everyone is going through something.” 

Dr. Janice McCall, assistant professor of social work, produced audio and video broadcasts on the ways that community trauma — widespread events like drug epidemics, hate crimes or disease outbreaks — relates to an individual’s ability to cope. 

Instructor Jane Zupancic, a program specialist for Washington County Children and Youth Services, provided information on recognizing and reporting child abuse. Her first online session drew 300 participants. 

“We know what child abuse looks like when you’re face to face with a kid and you can see the signs,” Mahoney said. “But through a computer screen, it might look different. What does it look like, and what do we do now?” 

The collaboration is the latest the partnership between Cal U and IU1. 

“Cal U and the IU have a great relationship, and Dr. Sheri Boyle has collaborated with us for years on trainings to provide continuing education credits,” Mahoney said. 

“The social work faculty take seriously one of our core social work values of service,” said Boyle, chair of the Social Work Department and coordinator of the University’s Master of Social Work program. 

“It is exciting for us as a department to be a resource to our University community and work with Intermediate Unit 1. The IU accepts many of our students for their social work practicum. It’s a pleasure for us to give back to the IU through these podcasts and other training programs.”