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 469
  • Publication
    Culture’s Role in Community Revitalization in Philadelphia
    (2003-03-01) Stern, Mark J
    SIAP grew out of the belief that a better understanding of how the arts fit into urban social processes could provide a stronger foundation for policy making beyond a narrow focus on economic development. Its research to date can inform urban policy and community development strategies in several ways: highlight upcoming trends beyond “urban crisis”; measure the impacts of cultural engagement on urban neighborhoods; and document the mechanisms through which cultural sector works in urban communities. Thus the arts and culture are not marginal but rather are at the center of the new urban reality—characterized by a mix of decline and revitalization. Looking forward, SIAP wants to document how cultural engagement—along with other forms of community involvement—fit into an evolving “new civil society.”
  • Publication
    The Invisible Epidemic: Educating Social Work Students towards Holistic Practice in a Period of Mass Incarceration
    (2013-05-13) james, kirk a
    The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported in 2011 that more than 2 million Americans are incarcerated. The report also indicates that 1 in 32 Americans are under some form of criminal justice supervision (parole, probation or prison), with statistics prognosticating that more than half will return to prison once released. Most of the individuals incarcerated are disproportionately poor people of color. Many have christened the period from the 1970’s to present as “Mass Incarceration” (Alexander, 2010). Social Justice is often described as the “organizing value” or catalyst that drives the profession of social work. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW, 2008) Code of Ethics as well as the curriculum policy statement of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) mandate that social workers and schools of social work education target their efforts towards economic and social justice inclusive of at-risk populations, paying particular attention to issues of diversity and oppression. Yet it is startling that critical discourse in schools of social work pertaining to mass incarceration, is marginal, or in some cases completely absent (Cnaan, Draine, Fraizer, & Sinha, 2008; Davis, 1978; Pray, 1949; Reamer, 2004; Roberts, 1997; Scheyett, Pettus-Davis, McCarter & Brigham, 2012; Wormer, Roberts, Springer & Brownell, 2008). Through a thorough examination of the history of the U.S. criminal justice system and an analysis of both the historical and contemporary relationship of criminal justice and social work, this dissertation introduces a two-semester MSW curriculum. The curriculum infuses social work education with issues relating to mass incarceration and it’s various intersections with social work practice. The first semester illuminates the historical evolution of the criminal justice system in the United States and the current state of incarceration, including punitive policies such as the Rockefeller Drug Laws, Truth in Sentencing and 3 strike legislations. The second semester highlights systemic and personal challenges to practicing within, and around the criminal justice system. The second semester pays particular attention to evidence based clinical practice theories and interventions. The curriculum utilizes the Council of Social Work Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards to create an amalgamation of clinical and macro competencies. The output is the introduction of a criminal justice infused macro history, and a micro clinical practice course to the social work pedagogy in an attempt towards holistic practice and advocacy more in line with the profession’s organizing value of social justice.
  • Publication
    Falling Far from the Tree: Transitions to Adulthood and the Social History of Twentieth-Century America
    (2005-12-01) Stanger-Ross, Jordan; Collins, Christina; Stern, Mark J
    Employing the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series of the University of Minnesota, we chronicle the changing timing and duration of transitions to adulthood in the twentieth century. Successive generations of young Americans reinvented the transition to adulthood to accommodate shifts in the economy and the American state. The patterned choices of young people delineate three eras of social history in the twentieth century: the era of reciprocity (1900–1950), the era of dependence (1950–70s), and the era of autonomy (1970s-2000). We also explain why African Americans differed from the general trend; they developed distinctive transitions to adulthood in response to persistent inequality.
  • Publication
    The Role of Social Anxiety in Volunteering
    (2007-09-01) Handy, Femida; Cnaan, Ram A
    The volunteer management literature suggests that the most effective means of recruitment is personal asking. However, agencies that apply this method do not report the expected success in volunteer recruitment. Often they face the volunteer recruitment fallacy: those people assumed to be interested in volunteering do not necessarily volunteer. Based on the literature of shyness or social anxiety and on empirical observations, this article suggests that social anxiety often deters volunteering by new recruits. We hypothesize that people with greater levels of social anxiety will be less likely to volunteer. Furthermore, we hypothesize that people with high social anxiety will prefer to give monetary support to worthy causes rather than volunteer their time, and if they do choose to volunteer, they will do so alongside friends. Our hypotheses are supported based on the findings from a large-scale nonrandom sample in North America. We suggest how to avoid the volunteer recruitment fallacy by creating a personal environment in which high-social-anxiety recruits feel safe and accepted. By removing the fear of being negatively judged by strangers as they enter the agency and creating a more personal approach, new recruits may have a higher probability of becoming long-term and consistent volunteers.
  • Publication
    Education for Social Development: Curricular Models and Issues
    (1994-09-01) Estes, Richard J
    Education for social development is emerging as an important component of professional education in the human services. This paper identifies the underlying assumptions, knowledge base, and goals of social development practice. The paper also identifies four models of social development practice of relevance to the education of social workers for social development: the Personal Social Services Model; the Social Welfare Model; the Social Development Model; and, the New World Order Model. Eight levels of social development practice are identified as are the dominant institutional sectors within which development practice occurs. The paper also discusses organizational issues associated with the introduction of varying degrees of social development content into individual educational programs.
  • Publication
    Beyond the Loss of a Child in the NICU: The Social Worker's Role
    (2017-08-04) Quann-Walker, Anniesha D
    The following is a two-paper dissertation exploring the role of social workers in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The classical and contemporary perspectives of grief theory provide the framework for understanding emotional responses of bereaved parents to the death of a child. The academic social work, medical, and nursing literature reviewed support the hypothesis that social workers are an insufficiently tapped resource in working with bereaved parents who have experienced perinatal loss in the NICU and revealed contributing factors for current medical social work practices. The accompanying article discusses the role of social workers and the areas that demonstrate their expertise. The article also conceptualizes the design of a bereavement program for perinatal loss using the established adult and pediatric hospice and palliative care models. This dissertation contributes to social work practice in the NICU and grief literature knowledge base by acknowledging the disenfranchisement of bereaved parents who have experienced perinatal loss in the NICU, supporting collaborations with other professionals on the NICU interdisciplinary team, and proposing a prospectus program design.
  • Publication
    Hearing His Story: A Qualitative Study of Fathers of Pediatric Stroke Survivors
    (2014-03-28) Robbins, Lois J.
    Abstract Hearing His Story: A Qualitative Study of Fathers of Pediatric Stroke Survivors Stroke is seen as a condition that only happens within the elderly community; however, this is not accurate. Most people are unaware that infants, children, and young adults can and do suffer from strokes. According to various researchers, pediatric stroke affects 25 in 100,000 newborns and 12 in 100,000 children younger than 18 years of age. Most pediatric stroke survivors will be left with some physical, behavioral, and/or cognitive impairment. While child rearing has traditionally been viewed as the mother’s forte, many fathers wish to be involved in sharing the responsibility of raising their son or daughter. Fathers of children with disabilities are rarely researched. This qualitative study inquired into the experiences of fathers of pediatric stroke survivors including their reactions and ways of coping. In-depth interviews were conducted with 13 fathers whose children are part of the Pediatric Stroke Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Findings include the impact on the life of the fathers;; the fathers’ use of various support systems;; the need for the fathers to make meaning out of the devastating event; finding gratitude; and, the effect of their religious and/or spiritual beliefs in coping with their child’s stroke. Fathers also shared their advice for professionals who work with children with special needs and for other fathers facing a similar situation. Included is a discussion of how the significant findings of the study compared to previous research, theories, and the Stress, Appraisal, and Coping framework of Folkman and Lazarus. Some additional relevant theories are also evaluated in regards to understanding the reactions and coping abilities of the fathers. Clinical implications for working with fathers of children with special health care needs and/or disabilities, limitations of the study, and suggestions for needed research in the future are also presented.
  • Publication
    Cultural Ecology, Neighborhood Vitality, and Social Wellbeing—A Philadelphia Project
    (2013-12-01) Stern, Mark J; Seifert, Susan C
    From 2011 to 2013, SIAP with Reinvestment Fund undertook new research that featured development of multidimensional indexes of social wellbeing for the city of Philadelphia. This report presents the results of that collaboration. Chapter 1 documents construction of a neighborhood-based social wellbeing index for the city. Chapter 2 uses the social wellbeing index to analyze patterns of advantage and disadvantage in Philadelphia neighborhoods. Chapter 3 draws on SIAP's historical data to examine changes in Philadelphia's cultural ecology between 1997 and 2012. The summary highlights how the policy tool helps conceptualize and measure culture as a dimension of social wellbeing as well as a contributor to equitable communities.
  • Publication
    The Life Stories of Individuals Who as Adults Were Identified as Experiencing the Effects of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
    (2015-05-18) Erb, Anna CK
    The teratogenic effects of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) can cause irreversible physical and neurological impairments that are present at birth and can have lifelong implications (McGee & Riley, 2007). One’s capacity to interact productively and effectively with one’s surroundings can be influenced further by positive and negative life events and access to appropriate social support services (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2004). Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a term used to describe a group of diagnoses and effects related to prenatal alcohol exposure (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2004). Since the effects of alcohol on a fetus were not recognized formally until the mid- twentieth century, it is likely there are generations of people who are affected by this condition but remain unidentified because they were born before the sequelae of gestational alcohol exposure were understood and well documented (Massey, 2011). Few scholarly works exist that accurately represent the subjective experience of adults who have lived with the unidentified characteristics of prenatal alcohol exposure and the social and cultural factors that influence the development of their individual identity. A narrative-style qualitative research methodology was used to explore the identity of adults living with FASD, in particular those who learned about this during adulthood. The researcher interviewed four adults living with the effects of FASD who became aware of their FASD as adults and reviewed several published autobiographical accounts as additional data sources. Upon analysis, themes of identity emerged and parallels between the life stories of the participants and other studies that address the psycho-social effects of FASD were identified. The research results suggest implications for social work practice, bring positive attention to a disenfranchised group, identify areas of needed study and shed insight into how adults living with the effects of FASD conceptualize their identity.
  • Publication
    The Impact of the Therapeutic Alliance, Therapist Empathy and Perceived Coercion on Engagement in Outpatient Therapy for Individuals with Serious Mental Health Conditions
    (2020-05-18) Mallonee, Jason R
    Purpose: Individuals with serious mental health conditions disengage from treatment at a higher rate than other populations. Factors associated with treatment engagement for this population in other contexts, or in outpatient therapy for other populations, include the therapeutic alliance, therapist empathy, and perceived coercion. This study tested the hypothesis that a stronger therapeutic alliance, a greater degree of therapist empathy, and a lower degree of coercion will be associated with a higher degree of engagement in outpatient therapy for individuals with SMHC when controlling for other factors found to be associated with engagement. Methods: 131 participants completed an anonymous web-based survey measuring the study’s constructs with established scales. The relationship between variables was tested using hierarchical multiple regression analysis. Results: After separating the therapeutic alliance and therapist empathy in the multivariate analysis due to multicollinearity, both the therapeutic alliance and therapist empathy were found to be significant predictors of change in client engagement. Perceived coercion was not found to be a significant predictor of change in client engagement. It was also found that participant treatment utilization at the time of survey completion was significantly less intensive than their historical treatment utilization, and that participants reflect a range of symptoms and levels of impairment. Conclusions and Implications: The therapeutic alliance and the quality of therapist-client interactions are the most important factors in maintaining engagement in outpatient therapy for individuals with SMHC. Individuals with SMHC are managing their conditions with less intensive and less restrictive treatments, despite a varying range of symptom severity and functional impairment. Additional research is needed to better understand engagement in therapy for individuals with SMHC and to develop more sensitive measures for evaluating these constructs.