WINTER  2017

The work to end extreme poverty is far from over, and challenges remain. Many of SSW’s faculty are researching ways to alleviate poverty.  It is difficult to reach those remaining in extreme poverty, who often live in fragile contexts and remote areas. Access to good schools, health care, electricity, safe water and other critical services remains elusive for many people, often determined by socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity, and geography. It’s clear that we need new ideas, programs and policies. SSW faculty are translating poverty research into action. Read about the latest innovations to eradicate poverty.

Joseph HimleAssociate Dean for Research and Professor, School of Social Work

Do Tax Time Savings Deposits Reduce Hardship Among Low-Income Filers?

People with low incomes need to save at least some of their tax returns for rainy days, no matter how hard it is to set aside money. Households without emergency savings may experience economic and material hardships that threaten household well-being, including housing instability, food insecurity, or failure to access needed medical care. Having emergency savings helps these households respond to unexpected events.

Assistant Professor Mat Despards paper, published in the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research examines the benefits of tax return savings.

Poverty Solutions New U-M Interdisciplinary Initiative

The MicroMasters is equipping learners from around the world with a framework to understand social work core theories and practices. The social work MicroMasters includes six courses that cover practice, policy, research, diversity, social justice and work with individuals, families, small groups and community organizations.  
Only Three Percent of all U. S. Households Participate in College Savings Plans 

Associate Professor Trina Shanks is co-investigator of the SEED Impact Assessment Study. SEED tests the impact of offering Head Start families 529 college education plans for their enrolled children.

One goal of Shank’s study is to identify if and how the SEED program has impacted participant
children’s sense of self, their future aspirations, their financial knowledge, and their educational
progress. Read excerpts from interviews with parents and youth.

“I think it’s a good program because it helps other students, like me, or something like that, um, to college and be successful. I think just doing a good job, because like I don’t expect programs to pay for a student's full ride to college. Like I think they get to work and stuff. They ave to earn it too.”

Marcela, age 14, ninth grade and a SEED program participant

“I think it’s great, it’s going to help me for college and pay for books and things like that when I head off.
And my first year, my mom told me, and we were discussing it yesterday that my first year of college I houldn’t go away. I should go to a [community college or local school], something like that, so in a year I could prepare myself to go away for a second year. Because when I got out of the high school, the first year I want to leave and go away for college. I want to attend [out of state school].”

Olivia, age 13 and a SEED program participant

States and the End of Cash Assistance

Vincent A. Fusaro, SSW PhD candidate’s dissertation examines the implementation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in the states. Since welfare reform, TANF funds have increasingly been directed to priorities other than cash assistance and work supports. Vincent is particularly interested in the relationship between race, majority group racial bias, and the how states use TANF resources. 

His dissertation identifies some patterns in state use of TANF funds. In particular, states in which negative racial views are more common devote fewer resources to traditional cash assistance and more resources to alternative priorities. 

"Welfare is no longer primarily a “safety net” program and is instead a funding stream for a host of interventions. Are states with larger minority populations more likely to fund particular types of alternative programs? "

SSWR 2017 Book Award

Associate Professor Luke Shaefer is the recipient of the Society for Social Work and Research's 2017 Book Award for his acclaimed book, "$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America". This award recognizes outstanding social work contributions that advance knowledge with direct applications to practice, policy, and the resolution of social problems.

Ruth Dunkle Elected President of the Society for Social Work Research

Associate Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs and Professor Ruth Dunkle was elected to be the next president of the Society for Social Work and Research at the 2017 national conference in New Orleans.

The Society for Social Work and Research is dedicated to the advancement of social work research. Members include faculty in schools of social work and other professional schools, research staff in public and private agencies, and masters/doctoral students. SSWR’s more than 2000 members represent more than 200 universities and institutions.

Certified Research Administrators 

Carrie Disney, Research Process Coordinator and Scott Stanfill, Research Services Manager have completed and passed the certified research administrators exam. The core content for the certificate emphasizes: leadership development, research administration, research and faculty development, innovation, economic development, integrity and stewardship. There are 20 Certified Research Administrators (CRA) on the three U-M campuses, SSW has 10% of U-M's CRAs.

"Abandoned families: Social Isolation in the 21st Century"

Assistant Professor Kristin Seefeldt’s new book, published by the Russell Sage Foundation is a timely, on-the-ground assessment of hardship in contemporary America. “Seefeldt exposes the shortcomings of the institutions that once fostered upward mobility and shows how sweeping policy measures—including new labor protections, expansion of the social safety net, increased regulation of for-profit colleges, and reparations—could help lift up those who have fallen behind.”

SSW Research Day

Faculty Speakers + Invited Keynote Speaker +  Annual U-M SSW Research Poster Conference  = Research Day
3/10/2017, 8:30 am - 1 pm

  Upcoming Events
Abandoned Families
Social Isolation in the Twenty-First Century
Assistant Professor Kristin Seefeldt will discuss her new book, " Abandoned Families Social Isolation in the Twenty-First Century". Through in-depth interviews over a six-year period with women in Detroit, Seefeldt charts the increasing social isolation of many low-income workers, particularly African Americans, and analyzes how economic and residential segregation keep them from achieving the American Dream of upward mobility.
3/29/2017, 4-5:30 pm
Race, Poverty, and Housing in American Cities: What do we do now?

Matthew Desmond, author of New York Times "Bestseller Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City" and Alex Kotlowitz, award-winning journalist whose coverage of poverty and race spans decades, will engage in a conversation surrounding the theme of race and poverty. 3/21/17, 4-6 pm                                                  Rackham Graduate School Amphitheatre