The mission of the MU School of Social Work is to promote leadership for social and economic justice by preparing students for professional excellence and leadership in practice, research, and policy. The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. To that end, many of our faculty conduct their research, training, and service activities in the community. These projects reflect the face of the School of Social Work in the community. We value these efforts and the direct impact they make on the lives of individuals we seek to serve.

IBHC is a student facilitated integrative behavioral health clinic at the Family Impact Center (FIC) whose mission is to address disparities in the availability of comprehensive mental health care for people who are uninsured or unable to afford healthcare in order to improve quality of life, reduce distressing symptoms, and increase access.

In response to a documented need for free mental health care in Missouri, the IBHC opened its doors in 2014. Professor Danielle Easter and Dr. Kelli Canada are the co-directors of the IBHC. SSW graduate students and counseling psychology students gain valuable real-world experiences working with clients while under the direct supervision of licensed clinical social workers.

Fall 2019: 3rd Shift IBHC Students

Fall 2019: 3rd Shift IBHC Students

The IBHC collaborates with MedZou, a student-operated medical clinic that provides free primary health care for uninsured residents of Central Missouri, which is also located at the FIC. IBHC’s current services include comprehensive needs assessment, suicide and neglect screenings, brief and long-term therapy (e.g., motivational interviewing; cognitive behavioral therapy), support groups, and case management.

The IBHC is funded through various grants as well as individual donors. While we are fortunate for the funding received, often it is difficult to support new programs, increase student involvement and to maintain basic operation costs every year. Please consider supporting the IBHC through a monetary gift.

Support the Clinic through a monetary gift.

In collaboration with Drs. Wendy Reinke and Keith Herman from the MU College of Education, Dr. Thompson’s community impact spans six school districts in Boone County. Their team has developed a comprehensive model of assessment and prevention focused on school-aged children with social, emotional, and behavioral health concerns. The project targets school personnel, students, and families. In short, the effort will provide training to over 3,000 teachers and school professionals to recognize signs of mental health symptoms in youth and to respond effectively. The team is working with school professionals to develop a data collection system to monitor the social, emotional, and behavioral health of students. School-based teams will then be trained to use these data to select scientifically supported programs to reduce risk associated with concerns identified in the data. For school-aged youth who are found to be at elevated levels of risk—approximately 1,000 youth with early signs and symptoms of mental health problems—school-based teams will engage existing community resources to support those youth and their families through a comprehensive mental health assessment and case management system.


Dr. Aaron Thompson, in collaboration with Social Work colleague Dr. Clark Peters and colleagues from MU’s College of Education (Drs. Wendy Reinke and Keith Herman) and Department of Psychology (Dr. Kristin Hawley), received a Boone County Children’s Services Board contract to implement the Family Access Center for Excellence (FACE) of Boone County. FACE is a cross-sector (i.e., education, family court, juvenile probation, law enforcement, public health, etc.) community center of excellence to enhance access to high quality social, emotional, and behavioral health services. FACE seeks to achieve this mission by (1) non-conflicted case management, (2) scientifically-based implementation support, and (3) continuous quality improvement and outcomes evaluation.

  • Non-Conflicted Case Management enhances access for all Boone County families with youth (0-19) to (a) licensed mental health professionals, (b) scientific- and family-based assessments, (c) an action plan with measureable outcomes, (c) increased family choice among service providers, and (e) supportive case managers to address barriers to service acquisition.
  • Scientifically-Based Implementation Support enhances local government and private service provider access to (a) creative financing options for programs, (b) cross-agency collaboration to create a seamless service array, (c) technical assistance to agencies to implement high-fidelity evidence-based supports, and (d) ongoing workforce development.
  • Continuous Quality Improvement and Outcomes Evaluation to enhance the broader community’s access to (a) ongoing community level needs assessments, (b) coordination among sectors using common, reliable, feasible, and accessible metrics of key progress indicators, (c) ongoing monitoring and support of high-risk families, and (d) outcomes evaluation and return on investment analysis of community services.

The FACE of Boone County will (a) accept referrals from any family or social service program in Boone County, (b) conduct a scientifically-based child-centered and family focused assessment, (c) develop a goal driven child and family treatment plan, (d) provide families with a choice of provider to meet each treatment plan goal, and (e) offer case-managers who will coordinate service access, monitor progress of the plan, and assist families to overcome barriers to accessing evidence-informed treatments.


Dr. Kelli Canada is involved in an ongoing project with an interdisciplinary team of investigators, led by Dr. Marilyn Rantz in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, working on ways to reduce potentially avoidable hospitalizations through testing an intervention for long-stay Medicare-Medicaid enrollees in 16 skilled nursing facilities. In 2012, the team was awarded $14.8 million by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for this project. The intervention includes embedded advanced practice nurses in facilities, emphasis on care transitions and quality improvement to detect and manage changes in resident care status, and health information technology.

As Care Transitions Lead for the project, Dr. Canada collaborates with Missouri Quality Improvement Project (MOQI) facilities, community agencies, consumers, and other stakeholders to advance discussions about care preferences and advance directives, among other duties. Dr. Canada provides oversight in the implementation of National Health Care Decisions Day Advance Directive Clinics in each of the 16 facilities, several assisted living villas, and health fairs. Partnering with the Missouri Bar Association, local banks who supply notaries, and palliative care and hospice programs in the St. Louis area, these free clinics provide education on advance directives and participants can enact these documents if they so choose. Several hundred senior citizens, families, and health care workers have visited these clinics, received education, and enacted documents throughout this project.

The initiative proved highly effective in the first phase of the project, decreasing potentially avoidable hospitalizations by 34.5%.

Now in Phase 2, CMS awarded an additional $19.8 million to the team to test payment reforms to further reduce avoidable hospitalizations. The Initiative to Reduce Avoidable Hospitalizations among Nursing Facility Residents: Payment Reform will include nursing facilities that receive only the new payment model compared to nursing facilities that receive both the new payment model and the intervention used in the first project. The project targets the most common diseases associated with hospitalizations: pneumonia, dehydration, congestive heart failure, urinary tract infections, skin ulcers, and asthma. The goal of reducing avoidable hospitalizations is highly valued by residents, families, health care providers, and payment agencies. Marilyn Rantz leads the exceptional team for both studies. The team also includes Amy Vogelsmeier, Lori Popejoy, Greg Alexander, Greg Petroski, and Marcia Flesner.

In 2018, Drs. Clark Peters and Kelli Canada established MU’s first center on criminal and juvenile justice. The Center for Criminal and Juvenile Justice Priorities (CCJJP) is an interdisciplinary center of scholars and community stakeholders committed to creating and disseminating research, education, and training for practitioners, policy makers, people with lived experience, and people at risk of justice involvement. It is a resource for criminal and juvenile justice research, intervention, training, and education for the state. Faculty affiliated with the CCJJP collaborate with community providers, the courts, state agencies, and academic institutions across the world. For more information about CCJJP projects, faculty affiliates, and ways to get involved, please visit the CCJJP webpage.

See Research and People pages for more information on faculty activities.