School of Social Policy & Practice

Founded as one of the nation's earliest schools of social work in the United States, the School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) has trained social work professionals for over 110 years. In the 21st century, its scope expanded to include public policy and nonprofit leadership as natural extensions of applied social research. Today, SP2 offers masters programs in social work, public policy, and nonprofit leadership; doctoral programs in social welfare and clinical social work, and a wide range of certificate programs and specializations. The school is home to several research centers, including the Center for Carceral Communities, the Center for Guaranteed Income Research, the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, the Center for Social Impact Strategy, the Center for Social Mobility and Prosperity, the Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice and Research, and the Ortner Center on Violence and Abuse. Faculty and graduate work is rooted in social justice, community care, and advancing equity-based policies worldwide.

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 527
  • Publication
    THE VOICES OF DETERMINATION: A TWO ARTICLE EXPLORATION OF AFRICAN AMERICAN FATHERS' EXPERIENCE WITHIN THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM.
    (2024-05-18) Randall L. Wilson
    The journey of African American fathers involved in the child welfare permanency process is influenced by the intersection of institutional betrayal, race, and gender. These societal norms work together within the context of the child welfare system to impact the reality of African American fathers. This is due to the absence of equitable child welfare policies and the pervasiveness of informal interpersonal practices that are rooted in unfounded stereotypes, attitudes, and assumptions toward African American males. African American fathers who find themselves engaged in the child welfare permanency process seldom have the opportunity to express their narrative. The "Voices of Determination" study seeks to gain a rich understanding of the individual experiences of African American fathers that stem from persistent societal beliefs about racial and gender inferiority. Its focus is on examining the impact of negative portrayals of African American men's family roles on their children's experiences within the child welfare system. The "Voices of Determination" study utilizes photovoice, a form of participatory photography, as the primary qualitative method and explores the impact of institutional betrayal, race, and gender on the experience of African American fathers aged 18-55 years engaged in the child welfare permanency process in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Using an attachment theoretical lens, the relationship between the child welfare system and African American fathers was examined. To ensure cultural relevance, African American Male Development Theory was integrated to articulate African American men's unique social, intellectual, spiritual, and systems engagement experiences. As part and parcel of the photovoice, participant-centered methods were used to explore the experiences that supported or challenged the child welfare permanency process for 10 African American fathers. Photovoice captioned images and interview transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis. In this exploratory study, African American fathers consistently demonstrated the theme of narrative coherence when discussing their negative relationships with the child welfare system. They coherently described their personal experiences of feeling rejected or neglected by the child welfare system's policies and practices. When they had consistent positive encounters that provided a secure working model, the study participants were able to demonstrate the earned-secure attachment characteristic of narrative coherence. For this study, the secure working model necessary for the coherent narrative was derived through the interactions with the facilitators of the parenting education and support groups and continued with the researcher. The findings of this study shed light on the fourth tenet of the African American Male Development Theoretical perspective. Through their narratives, the fathers defined themselves beyond any socially constructed ideas of innate biological or cultural deficiencies, and instead emphasized their resilience and resistance within the permanency planning process. Although the results of this exploratory study cannot be generalized beyond the men who participated, it offers valuable insight into the experiences of African American fathers who are involved in the process of reuniting with their children within the child welfare system's permanency process. The study suggests areas that require further exploration and research and recommends policy and practice changes within the child welfare system based on the personal experiences of these men who are affected daily. Keywords: AFRICAN AMERICAN FATHERS, CHILD WELFARE PRACTICE, PHOTOVOICE, QUALITATIVE RESEARCH, AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE DEVELOPMENT THEORY, ATTACHMENT THEORY
  • Publication
    A RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL (RCT) OF A SELF-HELP PARENTAL GUIDANCE BOOK ON PARENTS’ SENSE OF COMPETENCY AND REDUCING PARENT-REPORTED CHILD BEHAVIOR SYMPTOMS
    (2024-05-14) Yehuda Tanuri-Leeman
    Purpose: In light of the increasing demand for accessible mental health resources and the specific challenges associated with engaging adolescents in traditional therapy, it is crucial to evaluate alternative interventions that empower parents to manage child behavior and enhance parental competency effectively for which there has been limited research. This study evaluates the effectiveness of a self-help parental guidance book in enhancing parents' sense of competency and reducing parent-reported child behavior problems. Methods: Utilizing an experimental design, this study involved a heterogeneous convenience sample of 128 parents across various regions of Israel. Participants were given a pretest and then randomly assigned to an experimental or control group. The treatment group read a self-help guidebook within 4 weeks of the pretest after which both groups were then re-assessed using a post-test one month later. The "Me as a Parent" and "TOPSE Child Behavior Scales" measured parental sense of competency, and the "Disruptive Behavior Disorders Rating Scale" assessed the frequency of child disruptive behaviors as perceived by parents. Data analysis was conducted using regression analyses. Results: Parents who engaged with the self-help book reported significant improvements in parental competency and a reduction in child behavior symptoms compared to the control group. Regression analyses confirmed the book’s positive impact, highlighting substantial effect sizes (Cohen’s d = 0.68 for parental competency and Cohen’s d = 0.63 for reduction in child behavior symptoms). The analysis found that while the frequency and number of strategies used by parents did not predict a greater change in reducing behavioral problems, it did predict an increase in parents' sense of competency. Specifically, using strategies more frequently was linked to a higher general sense of competency (measured by MaaPS) and a sense of competency specifically related to discipline (measured by TOPSE). A greater sense of control (also measured by TOPSE) was observed with an increase in the number of strategies used. Implications: These results underscore the potential of self-help resources as effective tools for parental education in behavior management. The substantial effect sizes indicate that structured, self-administered guidance can significantly and substantively benefit parenting practices and outcomes. This study supports the broader implementation of such interventions, particularly in settings where traditional therapeutic resources are scarce or inaccessible. Future research should further explore the long-term effects of these interventions and the specific elements that most effectively boost parental efficacy and child behavior modification.
  • Publication
    The Impact of Caregiver Belief and Support on Childhood PTSS Presentation in Substantiated Child Sexual Abuse Cases
    (2024-05-20) Daniels, Victoria
    Background: Children and adolescents who have been sexually abused are at a greater risk for physical, emotional, and behavioral problems throughout their life. However, the literature on outcomes of child sexual abuse contains many underexplored domains, especially those relating to children’s families. This is a critical element when considering the dependency that children innately have on their families, only increased while recovering from a trauma. The present study examined the impact of caregiver belief and support on child outcomes, as well as the relationship between caregiver belief and support, in substantiated sexual abuse cases. Methods: Data from 94 extended forensic interview cases was retrospectively analyzed. The analysis evaluated the influence of child factors, abuse factors, and family factors on child trauma symptom scores (as measured by the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children [TSCC] and Trauma Symptom Checklist for Young Children [TSCYC]) and child behavior problem scores (as measured by the Child Behavior Checklists [CBCL] for ages 1.5-5 and 6-18). Results: Caregiver belief was predictive of lower trauma symptom scores measured by the TSCC (p=0.02). Girls had lower trauma symptom scores than boys, as measured by the TSCYC (p=0.02), and lower problem behavior scores measured by the CBCL 6-18 (p=0.05). In a post-hoc analysis of independent t-tests, TSCC trauma symptom scores were lower in children whose caregiver believed their allegation (p=0.02) and supported them in the aftermath (p=0.04). However, TSCYC trauma symptom scores were reported as higher in children whose caregiver supported them (p=0.05). Overall, caregiver belief and support appeared to have a significant correlation (p<0.001). Conclusions: Future research in the risk and resilience of child sexual abuse survivors should consider caregiver belief and support as distinct yet related concepts. Caregivers who believe and support the child may be more aware of potential trauma symptoms and child behavior problems. Different perspectives (i.e. child-report, caregiver-report) should be used to assess trauma symptoms and child behavior problems in research and practice.
  • Publication
    A CORRELATIONAL STUDY REGARDING THE IMPACT OF MATERNAL AND INFANT CHARACTERISTICS ON MATERNAL-INFANT-ATTACHMENT IN A NEONATAL INTENSIVE CARE UNIT
    (2024) Fowler
    A premature delivery is an atypical, adverse experience for a mother and her baby. Advances in neonatal medicine and technology have prompted new parameters of viability for this fragile population. Less is known, however, about the impact of high-risk characteristics on the formative attachment between mother and baby. This study tested the hypothesis that mothers and infants with higher-risk characteristics (post-partum depression, infrequent NICU visitation, low gestational age, low birthweight, and extended NICU stays) experience a lesser degree of maternal attachment than mothers and infants with lower-risk characteristics (no post-partum depression, frequent visitation, moderate-to-late preterm status with higher birthweights and shorter lengths of stay) when controlling for civil status and number of siblings. This study utilized a correlational design and a nonprobability convenience sample of N= 101 mother-infant dyads in a NICU at a university hospital in a large metropolitan area of the southern US. Measurements included the Maternal Attachment Inventory, Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, and data from electronic medical records. Hypothesis was tested using regression analyses with n=77, given missing outcome data. Due to the ceiling effect of the DV (Maternal Attachment) each item of the scale was explored via a post hoc series of One-Way ANOVAs to anatomize attachment domains and clarify specific areas of attachment challenge. The hypothesis was unsupported; however, post hoc results yielded some insight into the impact of postpartum depression on a mother’s thought capacity for her baby. Additionally, four of the items from the MAI were more normally distributed than the overall score, suggesting specific attachment challenges in understanding one’s baby, thought capacity for one’s baby, and having fun with one’s baby. baby. Researchers explore these results in greater detail, considering environmental constraints and traumatic circumstances that are unique to the NICU and these specific areas of attachment. Clinical interventions are suggested, which may support staff and parents in navigating NICU/postpartum trauma, including dissociative or avoidant behaviors that negatively impact maternal attachment.
  • Publication
    UNDERSTANDING THE PERSPECTIVES OF SOCIAL WORKERS AND CLINICIANS WORKING WITH SPIRITUAL AND RELIGIOUS AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDENTS RECEIVING CLINICAL SERVICES FROM UNIVERSITY AND COLLEGE COUNSELING CENTERS
    (2024-05-18) White, Brian
    The purpose of this study was to understand the perspectives of clinicians and social workers providing clinical services to religious and spiritual African American students at various universities and colleges in the United States to understand their perspective when providing clinical treatment to spiritual and religious African American college students on college and university campuses. This study utilized a grounded theory approach using thematic analysis. Each participant participated in semi-structured interviews. Thematic analysis was the chosen data analysis method to identify themes that emerged from the data. This study included 12 participants (n=12) who work as social workers, psychologists, and professional counselors who provide clinical services to spiritual and religious African American students at universities and counseling centers in the United States. The method utilized to identify participants was purposeful sampling and snowball sampling. Ten themes emerged from the data set: (a) Clinician Self-Disclosure, (b) Stigma, (c) To Cope, “Just Pray About It,” (d) Fear of Rejection from Family, (e) Reconciliation of Sexual Orientation/Identity, (f) Empathetic Probing, (g) Benefits of Utilizing Faith-Based Organizations, (h) Sense of belonging, (i) Open Communication Amongst Providers, and (j) The ‘Clinically Trained and Educated Chaplain.’ Results of this study demonstrate that clinicians can help students honor their religious and spiritual beliefs while also helping them navigate the challenges that arise when these beliefs conflict with their identity, attitudes toward clinical treatment, and other challenges faced in the college and university setting. Clinicians can also collaborate with religious and spiritual groups and leaders to assist with helping spiritual and religious African American students deal with these challenges. One implication for clinical social work practice is engagement and the clinician’s responsibility for seeking to understand the worldview of the student who identifies as spiritual and religious. Another is incorporating the student’s religious and spiritual beliefs in the assessment and treatment process and understanding their background, family involvement, stigma, and other issues that arise in the therapeutic space. In addition, social workers and clinicians should also find ways and opportunities to educate and collaborate with chaplains and faith-based organizations on college and university campuses.
  • Publication
    Older Adults Sheltered Under Project RoomKey: A Client Population Profile and Recommended Approach to Ensure Retention of Housing through the Coming Transition Period
    (2020-05-15) Culhane, Dennis
    "In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles County has, to date, executed agreements with 32 hotels/motels and is working with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) to utilize these sites as emergency housing for high vulnerability homeless persons under Project Roomkey. This report is based on 1,498 persons housed through Project Roomkey as of April 30, 2020. A total of 297 of these persons provided with emergency housing are at least 65 years of age (19.8 percent). A Long-Term Housing Strategy Built on Two Objectives, Thee Commitments, and a Familiar Model: This report recommends a strategic approach to transitioning older adults from Project Roomkey to long-term housing arrangements that adopts a variant of the Rapid Re-Housing (RRH) model as a basic framework and places a premium on health and safety from exposure to COVID-19. The strategy would pursue basic two objectives: - Objective 1: Ensure all Project Roomkey clients are placed into safe permanent or interim housing upon moving out of the participating hotels and motels. - Objective 2: Housing placements of older adults out of Project Roomkey must include services that effectively address client vulnerabilities. To achieve these objectives, the County and LAHSA must commit to the following through a coordinated and collaborative effort with cities and with a broad range of stakeholders that straddle government jurisdictions: - Where continued occupancy in hotels participating in Project Roomkey is not possible, immediate placement of all clients in permanent housing or a on a rapid path to permanent housing arrangements that are safe and do not introduce added health risks. - Provision of Housing Stabilization Case Management Services to all clients, encompassing mainstream benefits enrollment (e.g. SSI, SSDI, GR, CalFresh), housing transition counseling, landlord negotiation, coordination of move-in assistance, and transition to community health and service supports. A flexible approach in fitting clients to a diverse range of possible long-term subsidized housing options on a client-by-client basis, one informed by specific needs and vulnerabilities and oriented around safety from potential COVID-19 exposure through opportunities for self-isolation and quarantine."
  • Publication
    Los Angeles County's Homelessness Initiative (HI): Annual Performance Evaluation: Year Three Outcomes
    (2020-01-06) Culhane, Dennis
    In February 2016, the LA County (LA County) Board (Board) formally approved a comprehensive set of strategies to combat the County’s homeless crisis. Coordinated by the CEO’s Homeless Initiative (HI), the HI strategies are the product of a collaborative process that involved not only County but also non‐County stakeholders, including cities, municipal leaders, community organizations, advocates, and concerned citizens. The strategies are grouped into six focus areas seeking to (a) prevent homelessness, (b) expand subsidized housing, (c) increase income among those who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless, (d) enhance homeless case management and supportive services, (e) create a coordinated homeless services system, and (f) expand affordable and homeless housing.
  • Publication
    Final Report: A Review of Year Two of Los Angeles County's Homeless Initiative
    (2019-03) Culhane, Dennis
    In February 2016, the LA County Board of Supervisors formally approved a comprehensive set of strategies, administered under the County’s Chief Executive Office (CEO), that provide the framework for LA County’s Homeless Initiative (HI). The HI strategies are the product of a collaborative planning process that involved the participation of multiple County departments, cities and community organizations.
  • Publication
    An Evaluation of the City of Philadelphia's Kensington Encampment Resolution Pilot
    (2019-03-05) Culhane, Dennis
    This evaluation is an independent examination of the City of Philadelphia’s Encampment Resolution Pilot (ERP), an initiative to shut down two homeless encampments located in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. The closure process involved an extended period of active outreach that facilitated access to housing, substance use treatment, and other services to people who stayed in the encampments and faced displacement. We examined two primary outcomes: first, whether the encampments were closed as scheduled and remained closed; and, second, the extent to which the people who were sleeping in the encampments (i.e., the target population) received needed services. The evaluation is based upon five primary data collection activities that, combined, provided a timely, multifaceted assessment of ERP, and particularly of the impacts ERP had on both those displaced by the initiative and the area of Kensington surrounding these encampments. These data components are: 1. An “Outreach Encampment and Survey” of 169 persons who frequented the encampments; 2. Data collected as part of ERP outreach services and linked to the City of Philadelphia’s integrated data system of services records known as CARES; 3. Direct observation of community meetings, ERP planning meetings, and encampment sites; 4. Interviews with people who stayed in encampments and community members as well as advocates for those staying in the encampments, and ERP officials and providers; and 5. Documents and records from City of Philadelphia and other sources, and media coverage related to ERP and Kensington
  • Publication
    A Roadmap for Phased Implementation of an Older Adult Housing Pilot in Los Angeles County
    (2020-09-21) Culhane, Dennis
    An Increasingly Urgent Problem Collides with the Challenging Realities of a Pandemic. The implementation framework provided here builds on a March 24, 2020 report prepared by the CEO’s Office of Homeless Initiative (HI), which provides the basic contours for an Older Adult Housing Pilot that would seek to permanently house all willing homeless adults who are at least 65 years of age. The HI’s report, however, represents deliberations and the realities of Los Angeles County’s homeless services system prior to the onset of the coronavirus public health emergency. The implications of the pandemic have unfolded contemporaneously with the development of a pilot implementation approach and created some challenges for the pilot planning process during the past six months, particularly in terms of questions about pilot funding sources. While some details have gradually come into sharper focus over this period, a number of key issues remain unresolved at the present time, and the availability of some previously assumed funding sources has been deferred until Year Two of the pilot, at the earliest. Within this fluid context, the plan we offer in this report - the projected population for which is shown in Figure 1, along with the costs associated with serving these clients - represents a necessary modification of our initial plan but also reflects the persistence of a basic tension: While COVID-19 temporarily, but indefinitely, places restrictions on the use of previously-available resources, older adult homelessness is a growing and increasingly expensive problem, one likely to worsen in the absence of a systematic and coordinated intervention. More immediately, the heightened risk of complications and fatality for older adults who become infected with the coronavirus adds to the urgency of moving homeless older adults from the streets to the safety of permanent housing.