Cal U to host national social work conference

California University of Pennsylvania will host the 46th National Institute on Social Work and Human Services in Rural Areas from July 14-16.

The theme of the virtual event organized by the National Rural Social Work Caucus is “Contemporary Challenges in Rural and Small-Town Industrial Communities.”

Registration is $35, and continuing education credits will be offered. For more information about the conference and registration details, visit

The annual conference is hosted by a different college or university each year to “showcase the diversity of rural America and to provide social workers in rural areas with access to a substantial professional activity that might not otherwise be available to them.”

Dr. Stephen Cooper, a professor and associate director of research at Stephen F. Austin State University, will deliver the keynote address from 6:30-8:15 p.m. July 14. Other workshop topics include “Providing Affirming Care: Assisting LGBTQ+ Folk Living in Rural Areas” and “The Last Mile: COVID-19, Telehealth, and Broadband Disparities in Rural Indiana.”

“It can be an eye-opening experience to attend a national conference and learn about different communities and what they face,” said Dr. Sheri Boyle, a professor of social work at Cal U who is helping to organize the event.

“It will be a huge benefit to social workers in our community, and because it is being held virtually this year, we can reach an even wider audience.”

Cal U offers both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work.

“Our M.S.W. program has historically had a rural focus, so it is appropriate for us to take this on,” Boyle said of the virtual conference.

Cal U ‘s social work and counselor education programs have received a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grants of more than $3.2 million.

The HRSA Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) program aims to increase the behavioral health workforce in rural and/or medically underserved communities.