January 2019

Social Work Practice 3 class makes a difference for students in Lewisville ISD’s School Age Parent Program


DENTON (UNT), Texas – Students in the University of North Texas College of Health and Public Service Social Work Practice 3 class are celebrating their achievements from the fall semester. They combined skills they learned in their Social Work Practice 1 and 2 courses to create an organization that served Lewisville Independent School District's School Age Parent Program called UNT Advocates for SAPP

They created four committees – fundraising, collections and distributions, activities and advertising – and an executive board to assist the program that provides pregnant and parenting teens in the Lewisville school district with the support and resources needed to either remain in school or to return to finish their high school education.

Over the course of the semester, they held 10 fundraisers, including pie-in-the-face events, profit shares and silent auctions. They also tabled on the UNT campus multiple times and used social media to spread the word about their organization and events. They partnered with community members including the UNT Social Work Student Association, Brookshire's, The Bearded MonkHarvest House, Game Changers Sports and Arcade GrillMulberry Street Cantina and others, to raise:

·       More than $6,400 in physical donations

·       More than $1,500 in monetary donations

·       More than $2,400 in silent auction items



UNT PUSH program receives $40k King Foundation grant to help youth transition from foster care into higher education

Students will not only earn college credit at UNT, but receive a meal plan and residence too.

DENTON (UNT), Texas – The Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation granted $40,000 to the University of North Texas Persevere UNTil Success Happens (PUSH) program, which helps young adults who age out of foster care achieve educational success at UNT by focusing on academic, financial and career success, as well as the social well-being, of each student. The generous grant will be used to fund the Summer Bridge Program, an initiative that provides housing, programming and college transition services to incoming freshmen and transfer students. Participants also get an early start on their coursework.

“Approximately 18 percent of foster care alumni attend college and of those, only 3 percent graduate,” said Brenda Sweeten, clinical social work professor, PUSH advisor and UNT foster care liaison. “This grant will allow us to provide these youth with a supportive pathway to higher education and meaningful careers and gives hope to young people who may have felt there was none.”

Sweeten helped create PUSH as a student organization in 2012 after learning many former foster care students needed a support system and resources to help set them up for success at UNT. Thanks to the generosity of donors such as the King Foundation, PUSH, which is housed in the UNT Division of Student Affairs, has grown to serve hundreds of foster care alumni and helps these potentially at-risk students thrive on campus.  

This is the largest gift that the UNT System has received from the King Foundation and will allow PUSH to serve nearly 20 additional foster care alumni this summer.

“It is an honor to receive this grant from the King Foundation,” said David Wolf, vice president for university advancement. “This award allows UNT to expand this pilot program and allow more students to call UNT home.”

Neale Chumbler, dean of the College of Health and Public Service, says the King Foundation contribution will help PUSH transform even more lives at UNT.

“It’s important that these students feel like they’re part of the UNT family and PUSH provides them with that supportive network,” Chumbler said. “This grant from the King Foundation will allow us to open our arms and welcome even more of these students who are sometimes overlooked and provide them with opportunities they may otherwise have not had. We are grateful for their kindness and generosity.”

About the Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation

Carl B. and Florence E. King started the Foundation that bears their names in 1966. Established by gifts from Mr. and Mrs. King, as well as a later bequest from their daughter, Dorothy, the Foundation has now grown to more than $80 million in assets. The Foundation distributes more than $3 million per year to charities serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area, 38 counties in West Texas, and 32 counties in Arkansas.


UNT students help CASA Denton develop plan to fill need for male advocates

Of their 180 volunteers and advocates for children in foster care in Denton County, only 28 are men, while 190 of the 346 children being served are male.

DENTON (UNT), Texas – Students in the University of North Texas College of Health and Public Service hope a service learning project they completed with CASA of Denton County in their volunteer management course last semester has a lasting impact on the lives of Denton County foster children. They developed a strategy to support the recruitment of males and ethnically diverse volunteers.

“CASA of Denton County provides trained community volunteers to advocate for the best interest of abused and neglected children. We strive to reflect the children that we serve and our community,” said Debbie Jensen, executive director for CASA of Denton County. “Over 50 percent of children in foster care are boys, while only 15 percent of advocates are men. If we are to truly reflect the children that we serve, the disparity between these numbers needs to decrease.”

Students in the course researched and analyzed data on current volunteers and advocates, as well as the population of Denton County, and developed recruitment ideas and opportunities. Based on their findings, they determined that there is a high percentage of males who are between the ages of 35 and 49 who may be qualified for volunteer work and would be ideal for CASA recruitment. They also developed a recruitment plan and strategy that appeals to a diverse pool of prospective CASA advocates and volunteers.

“Dr. Keyes’ class did an exceptional job analyzing the community of Denton County and CASA of Denton County’s needs,” said Hannah McCurrin, training and recruitment coordinator for CASA of Denton County. “They provided tangible ways to implement the recruitment plan while genuinely capturing the CASA mission and the hearts of our volunteers.”

Dr. Neale Chumbler, dean of the College of Health and Public Service, says he’s proud of what these students accomplished.

“It’s impressive to see how these students have taken the skills they’ve learned in the classroom and put them to work in such an important real-world application,” Chumbler said. “We look forward to seeing how their efforts impact CASA and the difference they make in the lives of those they serve.”


UNT Masters in Health Services Administration Program uses innovative technology to track degree accreditation while giving students a polished digital resume

While students create an ePortfolio to present their verified, real-world experience to employers, UNT program coordinators are able to track and present competencies to their accrediting body.

DENTON (UNT), Texas – Faculty in the University of North Texas College of Health and Public Service’s Masters in Health Services Administration Degree Program have found an innovative way to combine the tracking of degree accreditation competencies with student career-readiness. They are part of a pilot program with UNT Career Connect – a campus-wide initiative that works with every UNT department as well as community partners to improve UNT students' written and oral communication skills, teamwork and critical thinking. They worked with UNT Career Connect’s Meena Naik and Adam Wear to develop a customized, online platform that integrates Canvas – UNT’s learning management system – with Badgr, a digital credentialing system. Badgr also automatically tracks students’ coursework achievements in ePortfolios, digital repositories that document students’ learning experiences during their educational process, simultaneously using the competencies required by the Commission on Accreditation for Healthcare Management Education, or CAHME, the primary accrediting commission for the graduate degree.

In order to achieve accreditation, the degree program must be based on a leadership model. The UNT HSA master’s program uses the National Center for Healthcare Leadership model, which is comprised of 26 distinct leadership competencies students are required to meet within the core courses. Faculty must designate specific assignments in each of the required core courses that meet sections of those 26 competencies and then determine whether a student has mastered those sections by their assignment grades. Additionally, the faculty will review how far each student has come in meeting the final goal of all 26 competencies upon completion of the eight core courses in the program.

“Dr. Becky Knight and I mapped and aligned all of the course assignments and activities from the eight core courses to each of the 26 leadership competencies. When students complete core course assignments in Canvas and meet the target scores indicating competency attainment, students then earn visible badges and micro-credentials that are connected in the ePortfolio system. This lets them see, at any time, the progress that they have achieved with each of the competencies and the rewards for their hard work,” said Dr. Gayle Prybutok, assistant professor in the Department  of Rehabilitation and Health Services. “These badges show both the students and the accreditation commission how much has been completed and how far along they are in meeting the 26 competencies.”

Dr. Prybutok and Dr. Knight created an assessment and corresponding competencies chart as well as a competency model summary that allows for easy cross-referencing so students or accreditors can understand what competencies correlate to each core course required for the degree.

“The most exciting thing about this is that when students graduate from the program, they not only leave with a verified digital record of their successes, they can show potential employers how these badges tie directly to the premier accreditation agency in the field,” Dr. Knight, lecturer in the Department of Rehabilitation and Health Services said. “In addition, the ePortfolio allows students to upload applied projects completed in the program, like their marketing plan, their business plan and their financial case analysis, that reflects valuable experience relevant for employers to view.”

Dean Neale Chumbler of the College of Health and Public Service says he’s impressed at the ingenuity Dr. Prybutok and Dr. Knight have shown in integrating this technology.

“Our goal is to find our students, who are among the best and the brightest, fulfilling careers in a field where they can make a difference,” Dr. Chumbler said. “Gayle and Becky have implemented a system that not only streamlines the accreditation process, but arms our students with the tools needed to standout as leaders in the field so they can stand out in today’s competitive job market.”

Dr. Prybutok plans to present the groundbreaking program by invitation as an example of a best practice at the Association of University Programs in Health Administration annual meeting in New Orleans this summer and Dr. Knight will discuss it at the Gerontological Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting in November.

For more information on the Masters in Health Services Administration Program, visit https://rhs.hps.unt.edu/hlsa.