PSU Diversity Institute Looks at Effects of Poverty

March 13th, 2006 by Adam

What are the social, emotional and physical implications of living in poverty, and how can school and family counselors best meet the needs of children and families who face the reality of poverty on a daily basis? Plymouth State University’s Third Annual Counselor Education Diversity Institute, Counseling Strategies for Improving the Quality of Life for Children and Families Living in Poverty, seeks to answer these and other important questions.

The institute, which will be held Saturday, April 8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Newfound Room at Prospect Dining Hall, is sponsored by the College of Graduate Studies and the Counselor Education Program.

Within a framework of respect and sensitivity toward culture, language and race, participants will learn about the short and long-term effects of poverty, particularly for children, women and families. The institute will focus on individual and group counseling strategies to enhance self-esteem and achievement for children living in poverty, family-based strategies to improve communication and parenting skills, and school and community-based interventions to improve quality of life for families and children. Additional topics covered will include local and state resources, food and nutritional concerns and poverty’s effect on a child’s emotional, social, physical and cognitive development.

Plymouth’s role as a regional comprehensive university is one that includes bringing together community members to discuss ways to understand and make an impact upon the issues facing communities across the state and the region.

According to Plymouth State social work professor Scott Meyer, one of the featured speakers at this year’s Diversity Institute, it is imperative for counselors to understand both the observable and underlying effects of poverty on children and families. As a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in New Hampshire, Meyer has developed effective counseling strategies and interventions to help individuals and families face challenges and make improvements in their lives.

“Counselors in various settings can provide services to a broad spectrum of clients from a range of social classes. In order to facilitate best practice outcomes in the counseling process, it is essential to fully appreciate the impact of living in poverty on human growth and development. It influences how people think, feel and behave,” Meyer said. “Gaining heightened sensitivity and understanding of these effects will promote more effective client engagement, communication, motivation and the ability to mutually develop goals that are realistic to attain and sustain.”

Leading the conference, in addition to Meyer, are PSU Education Department chair Patricia Cantor and Robin Peters, educational program coordinator for the UNH Cooperative Extension’s Nutrition Connections Program. Cantor, who has taught at Plymouth State since 1990, is the former director of the Center for Young Children and Families . Peters has worked extensively throughout Grafton County, advocating for low income families and individuals in settings such as homeless shelters, senior centers, rehabilitation centers, employment training programs and parenting education programs. She has served on the Pemi-Baker Literacy Task Force, Whole Village Board of Directors, Community Dental Task Force and Head Start’s Health Advisory Board.

The Diversity Institute is sponsored by PSU’s College of Graduate Studies and Counselor Education Program. The program cost is $89, which includes morning refreshments, lunch, parking fees and six professional development contact hours. For more information or to register for the institute, please call Kathi Fuller at (603) 535-2734. Participants should register by March 31.

Plymouth State University (PSU) is a regional comprehensive university offering a rich, student-focused learning environment for both undergraduate and graduate students. PSU offers 42 majors and 62 minors in programs that include education, business, humanities, arts, and natural and social sciences. The College of Graduate Studies offers coursework that promotes research, best practices and reflection in locations on- and off-campus as well as online. For non-traditional students, PSU’s Frost School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers working professionals opportunities to pursue an undergraduate degree by attending classes in the evenings, weekends and online. Located in a beautiful New England setting, Plymouth State University has been recognized as one of the “Best in the Northeast” by The Princeton Review.