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By Charles Whitaker

There are now more people living in poverty in the suburbs today than in our cities. Associate Professor Scott Allard explains the mixture of factors that have influenced this new reality, including demographic shifts in population, structural changes in the American economy and new migration and immigration patterns. Allard also notes that many existing anti-poverty programs and policies struggle to address the demands of poverty in the suburbs. The article explores the impact of poverty and the programs designed to alleviate its effects in Lake County outside of Chicago. Suburban poverty can also differ from its urban counterpart in demographic and geographic patterns, and in Lake County that means pockets of poverty in well-do-do communities, immigrant enclaves and inner-ring suburbs.

By Ed Finkel

SSA's doctoral program is considered the first and oldest social work Ph.D. program in the country. This article explores how the program supports students to produce rigorous, original research in a wide array of topics. Graduates of the doctoral program are leaders at social work schools, in social welfare systems and programs in countries around the world, and at federal and state social welfare programs. Current students are working on studies as varied as the experience of seniors who are exploring transgender issues, how adults who were in the foster care system are experiencing the notion of family permanence, how mental health workers make clinical decisions regarding children and youth, and cross-cultural relationships among African-American and Latino teens in high school. 

Sidebar Story:

By Carl Vogel

A number of new therapeutic techniques and approaches for substance abuse treatment are changing how counselors interact with their clients and what the expectations are for the process and sobriety. Traditionally, substance abuse treatment has been grounded in 12-step programs and a confrontational relationship built on the assumption of denial by the client. Motivational interviewing, third-wave cognitive-behavioral therapy, relapse prevention therapy and other approaches emphasize listening, empathy, collaboration and affirmation on the part of the clinician. These approaches are often used in conjunction with each other, heightening the need for a therapist to be capable of integrating different techniques and understanding the theoretical models that underpin the techniques.


The problems we confront in social welfare and social work are only becoming more complex and sprawling. Poverty, violence, addiction, loss, trauma and other social ills have been of concern to social work and social welfare since the inception of our profession. Yet as our world changes and becomes more interconnected and complex, the sources of such problems and the best ways to respond keep evolving too.

Research has repeatedly shown that children benefit in many ways from having engaged, supportive fathers. Yet social service programs primarily serve women and children–why are fathers so rarely part of the equation?

Beginning in the 1960s, rising divorce rates in this country produced an increasing number of blended families; more recently, young people have been putting off marriage, leading to an unprecedented number of children born outside of marriage: Today, 41 percent of all children are born to unmarried parents. Among disadvantaged groups, the proportion is even higher.

Efforts to undo the social welfare programs of the New Deal and the Great Society have had mixed results. While talk of changing Social Security remains mostly talk, for example, food stamps have come under heavy attack.

Studies have shown that women historically have spent less time commuting than men. Among the explanations is the “household responsibility” thesis: Women take jobs with a shorter commute because they need to be close to home to manage family obligations and household duties. A new study, published in the March 2013 Social Service Review, discovers that the story may be more complicated than that.

About 75 million Americans currently live near or below the federal poverty line. To Megan Kashner, A.M. ’95, another number can put a big dent in that harrowing statistic: one.

To bring clarity to what Chicago-based social services are available, it took a mix of technology and social work know-how to find a winning solution. Purple Binder is a one-stop crowdsourcing website for social workers and health care professionals to find, share and organize all the services they need for clients, including food pantries, substance abuse treatment, and homeless shelters.

The child welfare system is paying more attention to the social and emotional health of the children in its care. It’s a fundamental change that will require everyone involved—from the caseworkers to policymakers—to rethink how to do their jobs.

School News

When Nathan Linsk studied at the School of Social Service Administration in 1972, he developed an interest in geriatrics. But after working in the field for several years he found his career path changed by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Twelve years after the start of the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation, thousands of public housing residents have been relocated from their homes in traditional (mostly high-rise) public housing buildings into a variety of housing contexts, including new mixed-income developments, private rental housing subsidized with vouchers, rehabilitated traditional public housing developments, and scattered-site public housing units built in small  clusters among market-rate housing in a variety of Chicago neighborhoods.

When Michael Sosin became the seventh editor of Social Service Review (SSR) in the summer of 1999, he wrote an introductory editorial summarizing the venerable journal’s mission since being founded more than 70 years earlier. “It is quite a challenge,” he concluded in a typically self-effacing way, “to live up to the standards of the past.”