Social Work Students to Serve Clients at New Center for DREAMers

A new center at UW-Madison will help DREAMers in Wisconsin access and coordinate legal representation, mental health and social services, educational and career counseling, and provide a place of community. The Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work is delighted to partner with the new Center for DREAMers on this important project.

Clients of the center will be the 11,000 DACA recipients in Wisconsin – individuals brought to the country as young children and who remain here under protections of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Erika Rosales, from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (and past presenter at the Social Workers Confronting Racial Injustice Conference) will direct the center and Erin Barbato, director of the Immigrant Justice Clinic at UW Law School will serve as a co-project leader.

According to the proposal for the center, DACA students experience chronic stress due to fears about their immigration status and DACA college students report constant anxiety about undocumented family members’ safety given their inability to be near them physically. Additionally, DACA students face barriers to mental health resources, such as therapists who do not specialize in working with undocumented people or who do not understand their unique issues.

Social work students will provide culturally-responsive social and mental health services. Fabiola Hamdan, the Director of the Immigrant Affairs Office at the Dane County Executive’s Office and member of the school’s Board of Visitors, will supervise a social work student through a Field Placement who will work at the center providing direct services and facilitating connections to community resources.

Assistant Professor Tova Walsh will serve as the faculty liaison, working with the center’s leadership to develop and strengthen the interdisciplinary collaboration and ensure adequate preparation and support for social work students so they in turn can provide the best support to the DREAMers they work with at the center.

“My ultimate goal is to have a place where DACA recipients feel seen and heard, and where their whole humanity is being acknowledged,” Rosales said in a post from the School of Education. “We want to create this space for them to have a little bit more hope and more access to higher education.”

Funding for the center comes from the Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment at UW-Madison.