More than a century ago SSA's founders were true pioneers—fashioning a new profession, laying down the tracks of early policies and practices to protect our most vulnerable citizens, originating the use of new social science tools as a means of analyzing and addressing the most intractable of social problems. Their fearlessness and clearmindedness continue to inspire and guide us as we face persistent, increasingly complex, and emerging challenges of our day.
SSA associate professor Waldo E. Johnson, Jr., PhD ’93, and David J. Pate, Jr., AM ’82, associate professor at the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, recently met for a conversation about their research collaborations and collective work.
Americans are famously restless, always on the move. This is true of families, too, who often move in search of bigger houses, safer streets, and better schools. For the poor, however, the story is more complicated. For them, moving is often not by choice, and it often does not lead to something better.
We are a nation of debtors. From 1999 to 2008, the debt held by American households surged by 170 percent, from $4.6 to $12.7 trillion. (It has since leveled off.) The well-off carry the most debt, mainly in the form of mortgages. For them, debt is often an investment in the future, whether financing a home or a college education.
Melissa Hardesty wanted to study how social service agencies license foster parents. Along the way she stumbled upon a much bigger issue: how case workers in the child welfare system are caught between conflicting demands for the "objective" knowledge required by courts and the nuanced, empathetic and highly contextual knowledge needed to help families.
Michael Sosin's insights on homelessness allowed him to provide critical evaluation of Chicago's 10-year Plan to End Homelessness and ultimately helped lead to dramatic reductions in the number of people in the city living without shelter.
Research on programs aimed at reducing youth violence shows that there is reason for hope, says Deborah Gorman-Smith, a leading expert in the field, who has been named the Emily Klein Gidwitz Professor at SSA.
As a social worker at Hull House, GraceAbbott became well aware of the struggles of immigrants, who arrived in Chicago looking for relatives and often met exploitation instead. That awareness led to the founding of the Immigrants' Protective League, which she directed and that shared space with the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy. Her equally talented sister Edith, who received a PhD in Economics from the University in 1905, helped lead the school.