Lehman Master of Social Work Students Win Child Welfare Workforce Initiative Fellowships

BRONX, N.Y. — Two Lehman Master of Social Work students, Maria Alejandra Gomez and Fanny Duran, have won the prestigious Child Welfare Workforce Initiative Fellowship, which annually recognizes social work students in New York State who work within a not-for-profit child welfare agency. The award provides up to $12,000 per academic year for tuition and fees, plus additional support for books and transportation expenses, and also provides access to a broad network of child welfare professionals and social work students nationwide.

Gomez, a second-year MSW student and graduate of The King’s College in Manhattan, has worked in foster care since 2008. She currently is a family team conference scheduler and facilitator for Good Shepherd Services, a New York-based social services agency.

“In foster care, you have to know a little bit of all of the social service areas,” says the Morris Park, Bronx resident, who emigrated from Colombia in 2003 with her family. “So it challenges you to be on top of what’s out there. You get a wide range of possibilities for learning because you’re not only involved with a particular family but you also have to work with the school system and family court.” Gomez plans to continue working in the social work field and hopes one day to work with UNICEF, with a particular focus on immigration or social services for immigrants.

MSW student Franny Duran, a graduate of Dominican College in Rockland County, has worked for New York Foundling for the last six years. As an adoption social worker, she counsels children up to age 21 in the adoption process, works with foster families to prepare them for adoption, and manages all the related paperwork. She entered the agency as a foster care worker.

“It was a difficult job in the beginning, but I care,” says the Lower East Side resident, who is also a mother. “The greatest part of my job is helping the children to be placed with loving families so that the cycle doesn’t repeat itself.” The biggest challenge of her work, she says, is working with the judicial system because of the large number of children who are placed in foster care in New York City.

The fellowship is administered by The Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies (COFCCA), which is the principal representative for nearly all the not-for-profit child welfare organizations providing foster care, adoption, family preservation, juvenile justice, and special education services in New York State.

Contact: Keisha-Gaye Anderson / 718-960-8013 / keishagaye.anderson@lehman.cuny.edu