SALT Scholar Capstone Project Descriptions

Child Welfare

Metro Student Attendance Center & Truancy
A look at truancy and truancy prevention
 

The purpose of the research was to define truancy, address who is more likely to be truant, examine truancy as a “gateway” crime leading to recidivism and violations, evaluate the services known to help, and discuss the importance of intervention and what would help reduce truancy. Truancy has a significant direct and indirect value which can accumulate a negative impact on students. Truancy is considered a status offense. There is still a lot of room for improvement for educating students on the importance of attending school every day. Intervention Metro Student Attendance Center program (M-SAC) is a program which will serve as an immediate alternative to Juvenile court for truant Nashville students and is operated by the Metro Nashville juvenile court in partnership with Metro Nashville public schools and the Nashville police department. This program is in place to reduce the incidences of juvenile delinquents during school hours; To proactively address attendance problems at the earliest stages before patterns of delinquency develop; To impact the systematic causes of chronic truancy and high absenteeism through a coordinated strategic intervention process involving government and community youth and family service providers; and To enhance and strengthen the positive long-term outlook for school youth and their educational, social and economic opportunities.

O'Neisha Smith

Social Work

May 2014

 
Adoption and Foster Care Amongst the African American Population
Research aiding AGAPE's efforts
 

For my internship, I worked with AGAPE, which is a non-profit organization in Nashville seeking to help families, children, and adults through a wide array of services, including foster care, adoption, crisis foster care, and counseling. Agencies, such as AGAPE, have begun to notice the number of African American adoptive and foster homes available do not always line up with the number of African American children needing either a forever or temporary home. My research consisted of organizing and facilitating a focus group of African American couples that have previously adopted or fostered at AGAPE. From there, I was able to develop a survey that would reach out to the African American population to discover concerns when thinking about adoption and foster care. My research and the data collected will aid AGAPE in the future when thinking about ways to market or advertise their services, especially in regards to the African American community.

Grace Jones

Social Work

May 2014

 
Childcare
Research on parent expectations at Wayne Reed Christian childcare center
 

For my senior project project I spent my time at Wayne Reed Christian Childcare Center. While there i conducted a research project that would help the center better accommodate parents that were having trouble with the Childcare certificate program. Through the research they were able to learn what areas parents would like to see improved and ways that the center could grow to become an even better institution than it already is.

Anjellica Hayes

Social Work

May 2014

 

Juvenile Delinquency & At-Risk Youth Programs

Creating more effective community based programs

 

For the past five years, I volunteered with Second Chance Outreach Ministries, which is a program for men who have been incarcerated that help them reenter society and become better men. When I would talk with the guys, many of them had similar backgrounds of being in and out of jail/prison. Through my work with them, there was this nagging question, how can we prevent young people from going down those same paths? I knew there were many programs to help youth, but from my experience and conversations with several adults who grew up and still live in the impoverished communities around Nashville I noticed the programs are not as involved as they once were, there is some sort of disconnect. During our LJS trip to London, Europe, we met with Patrick Regan, the founder of a youth charity XLP, which is “committed to fighting poverty, supporting education and serving hundreds of young people and their families weekly.” For my project I thought that if implemented into current programs or a new program, elements of XLP would help bridge the gap to foster better growth for youth, specifically juvenile delinquents and at-risk youth. My project focuses on creating a more effective community-based program for juvenile delinquents and at-risk youth and how partnering with schools in assisting with education, creating employment skills training, and from a Christian perspective creating a focus of moral accountability have assisted in youth making changes in other cities. Another significant portion of my project that I hope to implement in the future is modeling XLP’s XL-R8 bus, which will travel throughout the projects of Nashville and allow children more opportunity to escape their environments to complete homework assignments, talk to mentors, learn job skills, play games, and just relax. My hope is through all of this to help the youth growing up rough areas of Nashville who have been through the juvenile system or are simply at-risk have more of an opportunity to become better adults.

Keitorria Edmonds

Law, Justice, & Society

December 2013

 
   

Media and Independent Adoptions

How the media may be influencing an increase in independent adoptions

 
   

For my internship, I chose to do my research on any correlations between the media and independent adoption rates. For my project, I defined 'independent adoption' as a "child being placed with the adopting parents by the birth mother, without an agency serving as intermediary". I created the surveys and sent them out to various agencies across the United States first, and then after a poor response rate, they were sent to the Tennessee members of the Inter-agency Adoption Coalition. My project outlines previous research in a Literature Review, the methodology, findings, limitations and implications of the project. As the rate of independent adoptions seems to be on the rise, the purpose of this research project was to see if the media has had any impact on independent adoptions, and what types of media has had the greatest influence. While there have been studies showing correlations between media and violence, and media and teen sex, I could not find one that had been done regarding the affect of media and adoptions; my hypothesis was that there is a correlation between the two. Due to a small sample size, the quantitative data did not indicate a correlation between the media and independent adoptions. However, in almost all of the qualitative responses, it was recognized that the media has played a part in independent adoption rates. Many responders indicated a belief that the internet, and from that social media, has impacted the rates in that it allows all parties to connect more quickly and efficiently without feeling a need for an agency.

Meredith Martin

Social Work

May 2013

Meredith Martin
   
Youth Development
Designing and mentoring program for inner city youth
 
   

I worked with Inner City Ministries where I have been a teacher for the past 5 years. For my project, I wanted to design a new program that had never been done before, and one that would really help the future of Inner City Ministries. After talking with staff and board members, I determined that one of the biggest problems facing the children in the ICM program was that many of them needed more help than just meeting one night a week in order to achieve their full potential, and that the most effective way of doing this was by building a personal, one-on-one relationship. I designed a program similar to the Boys and Girls Club because this method has been proven effective. However, I added a new Christian element that was unique. In order to do this, it required that volunteers would be given one particular student to take under their wing, and give that little extra support that they needed. This personal relationship really has the potential to become a lasting and incredibly fun relationship.

Hunter Hinton

Law, Justice, and Society

May 2013

Hunter Hinton
   
Adoption
Examining adoption plan programs for birth mothers
 
   

The purpose of this research is to interview birthmothers who have followed through with an adoption plan that they made through Bethany Christian Services. Through these interviews, the birthmothers will discuss the impact that their involvement with Bethany has had on them individually and their adoption plan. The birthmothers will be asked to assess how Bethany’s services helped them as well, and how they can improve. They will be asked to evaluate how Bethany’s services have impacted them emotionally, spiritually, and physically as well as the impact of counseling has had on their many different systems. Qualitative data will be gathered to determine Bethany Christian Services’ impact and identify strengths and weaknesses of the services from the perspective of the birthmothers interviewed.

Grace Fennell

Social Work

May 2013

Grace Fennell
   
Youth Services
Examining effective services for youth in state custody as they transition to independence.
 
   

My internship was at an nonprofit agency, Youth Villages. Youth Villages provides services for youth that are in the state's custody. For my internship, I worked in a group home of teen girls ages thirteen to eighteen. My research project focused on surveying the staff in the three Middle Tennessee group homes to see what their thoughts were on how obtainable services are for the youth after they age out of custody. I was looking to see if Youth Villages adequately prepares the youth for this transition into independence. The research found that the staff thought most of the services; health care, food stamps, housing and employment; were obtainable and that Youth Villages does adequately prepare their youth for independence.

Colleen Vice

Social Work

May 2013

Collen Vice
   
Decline in Child Sex Abuse
How the Davis house is contributing to the decline
 
   

The Davis House Child Advocacy Center’s mission is “To combat child abuse by coordinating services to child abuse victims and their families in crisis and providing community education focused on prevention and early intervention.” The Davis House Child Advocacy Center is a safe environment for children and their non-offending caregivers empowering each to protect their children and help them heal. Recently research has shown there has been a steady decline in child sexual abuse. The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System has collected and analyzed data from state child protective agencies in attempt to show a statistical decline. The purpose of this project is to analyze occurrences and demographics of past Davis House cases to compare Davis House statistics to National Statistics. Information was collected and analyzed from the Davis House and other various literatures. Information collected included: the number of cases that were set for prosecution, the number of prevention program trainings, and the number of cases that were unfounded. Each of the three sections of information mentioned above was collected from the years 2009-2012. While the findings of the Davis House statistics did not result in a decline, there was a consistency found in the numbers. The reader can observe within the findings section that there was no found increase in the number of cases that were set for prosecution or unfounded. The reader can also observe the number of prevention program trainings led by the Davis House have drastically increased from 2009-2012. Finally, to validate the findings and purpose of this research project, limitations and implications are listed to conclude the project.

Shelley Steakley

Social Work

May 2013

Shelley Steakley
   
Positive Impact of Girl Scouts
A look at the effects of Girl Scouts on underpriviledged and juvenille delinquint girls
 
   

I did a research project on Girl Scouts Project L.E.A.D. to show that this program is impacting underprivileged girls and juvenile delinquents in a positive way. I was able through my internship this spring to interact with the girls on a personal level learning about their lives and their dreams. Girl Scouts encourages courage, confidence, and character in each of the girl scouts. Through different activities and troop meetings the girls of Project L.E.A.D. were able to learn these things and improve on each characteristic. “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” This is a quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. This quote reinstates that what the Girl Scouts is trying to do in the lives of underprivileged girls of Middle Tennessee. Project L.E.A.D. is showing this population of girls the potential they have and to empower them to build courage, confidence, and character. The founder of Girl Scouts was Juliette Gordon Lowe who wants to help girls become empowered and self-sufficient. Throughout the semester with Girl Scouts I have learned that it is a program that empowers girls to be great and shows them that they can do and be anything they put their minds to. Project L.E.A.D. is a positive influence for underprivileged and juvenile delinquent girls of Middle Tennessee. Girl Scouts will continue to empower women all over the world and make an impact that will ultimately change the self fulfilling prophecy of girls that are underprivileged.

Nancy Prescott

Social Work

May 2013

Nancy Prescott
   
Juvenille Justice
A study of the demographics of those entering the juvenille justice system
 
   

In January of 2013, three brothers entered the Metropolitan Davidson County Juvenile Court system as a result of being expelled and arrested for disorderly conduct at school. Upon hearing this information, people instinctively think of high school boys committing crimes within a school setting; however, this particular incidence happens to be six, seven, and eight-year-old African American brothers who have grown up living in poverty. Two of the brothers, arguably all three, should be receiving special education services from their local Metro Nashville Public School, and all three have each been given a mental health diagnosis. While interning at the Juvenile Division of the Public Defender Office, I chose to study the demographics of juveniles who have been arrested at school for a variety of offenses. Through my semester-long research study, I found that Davidson County public schools are arresting African American males at a disproportionate rate. The alarming rate of disproportionate minority contact within school-based arrests shows the need for policy change within the Metro Nashville Public School system.

Lydia Buckley

Social Work

May 2013

Lydia Buckley
   
Autism
Developing data 
 
   

I developed a data sheet, and took data on a six year old autistic client at Brown Center. I recorded his behavior problems before we implemented a self-regulation sensory diet application. I also recorded his behaviors during implementation, and again after the program had been implemented.

Carmen Brooks

Social Work

May 2013

Carmen Brooks
   
Child Sex Abuse
Exploring similarities between abusers as well as similarities between victims
 
   

With the incident of child sexual abuse rising it is important to explore details related to each case to determine if similarities exits between the abusers and the victims as well as exploring victim’s families’ personal experience with the court system. The purpose of this project is to analyze specific cases from 2005-2012, to see what, if any, similarities exist between the abusers and victims as well as to give victims the opportunity to give feedback about their experience in court system at the District Attorney’s Office. The intention of this research project is to explore patterns in families and individuals when it comes to sex abuse. Age, demographic, and relationship to abuser are items of interest in this study. It is also the intention to analyze and better understand the impact the court process has on the victims of child abuse and their families: whether it be helpful or traumatic to the victim and victim’s family.

Kimery Cockrell
Social Work
May 2012

 

   
Possibilties for Lipscomb Partnership with After School Programs
Getting Lipscomb students involved in tutoring youth and partnering with parents
 
   

After school programs is one of three main institutions for children; along with school and the home . For low-income children, neither the school nor home may be the best or easiest place for growth and unlocking unrealized potential, but with the right environment of an afterschool program can help bring balance to the children.  The primary function of an after school program is to simply provide a deliberately designed developmental setting that balances safety, a measure of supervision, and spaces that children (especially those eight or nine years of age and up) can feel that they own.  Even though after school programs are simply a place for children to be to stay out of trouble and danger from the hours of three p.m. to six p.m. (typically), after school programs provide the opportunity to grow, physically, socially, psychologically, and in some places intellectually. The purpose of my research project is to take an after school program and to try to get Lipscomb students to engage in a mentorship program.  Also, another part of what I would like to do is start a partnership between the mother's of the children in the after school program and students at Lipscomb. The partnership would consist of a trading of ideas and techniques about how to complete everyday tasks such as shopping effectively, cleaning the house, cooking, and other things that can help to provide a comfortable environment for children.The project looks at the effectiveness of mentoring children in terms of low children reaching their potential that they may not have realized without positive reinforcement.

Eric Dickerson
Law, Justice & Society
May 2012

 

   
Resources for Transitional Living
Research focused on the resources available to those in the Transitional Living program at Youth Villages
 
   

My research project was focused on the resources available to the Transitional Living program at Youth Villages. This semester I had the opportunity to intern at Youth Villages in the Transitional Living program. The Transitional Living program helps adolescents and young adults who age out of the states custody achieve goals associated with independent living. Goals can range from housing, healthcare, education, and employment. Transitional Living specialist help the youth choose productive goals, and then work with the youth to achieve them. Meeting the goals of young adults can prove to be a challenge. To meet that challenge, Youth Villages has an array of internal and external resources available to their counselors. The purpose of my research was to review the effectiveness of those resources in helping the clients of Youth Villages. To measure the effectiveness, I sought the professional opinions of the Transitional Living specialist that work in the main Nashville office. I sent out a survey with seven questions that measured needs, effectiveness, and personal inventory. The Transitional Living Specialist responded in a variety of ways. Some of the responses were congruent with previous research, and others provided new insights into the view of company endorsed resources that some counselors found ineffective. Resources that were referenced had to do mainly with education, health, employment, and housing. Most of the employees agreed that these four areas of independent living are the most prevalent in regards to need. In regard to gender, the most prevalent needs in males had to do with housing and employment. The greatest area of need for female clients was sexual health education and pregnancy prevention. While many great things are being done for those aging out of states custody, it is important to remember that most of these youths are still at a disadvantage.

Robert Weatherly III
Social Work
May 2012

 

   
Sensory Interventions
Finding the best ways to help students with Autism engage
 
   

For my capstone project, I conducted research to help The Brown Center with Autism find the best way to help a student struggling with engagement, along with other problem behaviors. I did research on different sensory intervention programs and which types of therapies seemed to work best with children with autism. I researched different pressure therapies and weight therapies.  The occupational therapist from The Brown Center created different sensory input options for the student throughout the day. We started out with only one component, or sensory activity, to implement throughout the day. As we did not receive the desired results, another component was added, as was another the next time. After having three components of the plan implemented throughout the day, we still did not get the desired results. The student was protesting one of the components, and in turn was not receiving it properly throughout the day when he protested. We removed that component for a day to see the results, and there was not much of a change. At this point, we decided to implement what was considered the most intensive sensory intervention plan. The occupational therapist wrote out a plan including different activities every twenty minutes of the day. So the student was constantly receiving different types of sensory input. We did see an increase in engagement and a decrease in problem behaviors. It was not the desired percentages, but there were definite changes.  Engagement and the behaviors were measured twice a day during the same two activities. Results were recorded on a data sheet and entered into spreadsheets to chart the results. This research will be of great use to the staff at The Brown Center because they now know what does and does not work with this student, and they have ideas for students in the future who may struggle with similar behaviors.

Leslie Batts
Social Work
May 2012

 

   
What Happens Next
Assessing the needs of youth aging out of foster care
 
   
During my senior internship, I had the pleasure of working at AGAPE, a non-profit agency that provides foster care, adoption, and counseling services to the Nashville communities. Research showed that there were 6,723 children in foster care, of which 2,097 were preparing to age out of the system, in Tennessee just last year.For my capstone project, I decided to assess the needs of the youth who were close to, or in the process of, aging out of the foster care system. The needs assessment addressed many life skills that individuals should possess in order to successfully live independently. The information gathered will be used in the development of a website that will provide information and resources to youth in foster care. As the final piece to my research, I presented the findings to the Director of Social Services and the Executive Director of AGAPE.
 
Stacy Jones
Social Work
May 2012
   
Finding someone to speak up for the abused
Recruiting Nonprofit Donors for Court Appointed Special Advocates
   
My service-learning project was designed to address and strengthen the donor base of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). CASA provides trained community volunteers to advocate for the best interests of children who come to the attention of the court, primarily as a result of abuse or neglect. I am in the process of conducting primary and secondary research on the factors that drive potential donors. The research looks specifically at the 20-35 year old age group in the Nashville area, focusing on how charitable they are. 
 
Ansley Smith
Law, Justice & Society
May 2010
 
 
 
   
Ensuring no child falls through the cracks of bureaucracy
Recruiting Nonprofit Donors for Court Appointed Special Advocates
   
My capstone project was implemented to address and strengthen the donor base of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Given the fact that CASA is a non-profit it is very important to know how to successfully communicate to their existing and potential donors. Therefore, my capstone project consisted of using primary and secondary research methods to determine the factors that drive potential and current donors. I specifically looked at the 20-35 year old age group in the Nashville area, focusing on how charitable they are. 
 
Mary Katherine Schrenger
Law, Justice & Society
May 2010
 
 
 
   
Answering a call to parenthood
Recruitment and retention strategies for foster parents
   
For my capstone project I worked with AGAPE to develop recruitment and retention strategies for their foster care program. I worked to develop a survey intended to understand a parent's perspective on AGAPE's current system. To conclude the project I presented the data I had collected to AGAPE along with several strategies that could help improve their issues of recruitment. 
 
Jennaca Gheletca
Law, Justice & Society
December 2009