"I want to make sure that social workers understand the capacity of technology to improve the lives of people we work with, and the importance of digital skills for our workforce. I’m especially interested in how we can support digital resilience in foster youth, to buffer the potentially negative effects that come with being plugged in, so that they can benefit from the opportunities and social connections developed and maintained online."
Child welfare culture; Indian Child Welfare Act; social work technology; family-centered child welfare practice; technology in social work; distance education
Assistant Professor Melanie Sage joined the University of Buffalo in 2017. Her research and scholarship areas include the use of technology in social work education and practice, the intersections of technology and child welfare, family engagement in child welfare and child welfare practice with indigenous families.
She has received approximately $5 million in funding as a principal investigator/co-investigator for work in the area of child welfare and is currently the PI on a federal demonstration grant to improve Indian Child Welfare Act compliance. She has also led evaluations on the use of Family Team Decision Meetings with indigenous families and the effective use of Family Group Decision Making in child welfare, including practice, workforce retention and organizational culture.
Sage is a national leader at the intersection of technology and social work. She provides regular training for social work practitioners and educators in the ethical and effective use of technology and social media, co-chairs the technology track committee for CSWE's annual program meeting, sits on the board of husITa (a national non-profit that promotes the ethical and effective use of technology in human services) and is a co-chair of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare Grand Challenge, Harnessing Technology for Social Good. She also serves as on CSWE's Council on Conferences and Professional Development.
Sage teaches in the areas of individual and family interventions, and focuses on the applied use of evidence-based practice. She enjoys helping students develop clinical skills for practice, as well as working with students on effective ways to use technology and reinforcing strategies for lifelong learning.
Her current research is focused on technology and engagement in both teaching and practice. Her specific interest concerns the perception, application, and best practices of technology and social media in the child welfare setting, and how it can be harnessed to support individual and family well-being.
Over her ten-year career in direct practice, Sage worked in child welfare, psychiatric social work, Veteran’s Administration homeless veterans programming, as a forensic interviewer and in clinical private practice. Prior to joining UB, she was on the faculty at University of North Dakota for six years where she received a prestigious annual university-wide award for engaged scholarship and community service. She is co-author of the book “Teaching Social Work with Digital Technology” (CSWE Press, 2018).