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Three people have a conversation while seated around a table.

By William Harms

SSA Professor Harold Pollack uses blogs, op-ed postings, and video to discuss the problems of the handicapped through the perspective of his brother-in-law, a person with an intellectual disability. By sharing his family’s experiences, Pollack is able to prompt a nation-wide discussion and touch the lives of other families who are caring for people with disabilities. The media work is an extension of his academic publications on public health and poverty, as well as disability issues. His work has gained a following among policy makers and helped to influence legislation, such as the Affordable Care Act.

A seated person speaks to a room full of other seated people.

By Ed Finkel

SSA students receive prestigious fellowships each year to work in a wide range of government and nonprofit internships. This is a look at the experiences of a recent SSA graduate and two current students: Ellie Hart, AM ’14, is working as a Presidential Management Fellow for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Chicago; second-year student Lucia Ramirez-Bolivar served as a Human Rights Fellow during the summer of 2014 through the University of Chicago’s Pozen Family Center for Human Rights, at a legal non-profit organization called American Gateways; and second-year student Leah Eggers spent last summer as an SSA Social Innovation Fellow at the Cara Program in Chicago, a nonprofit job readiness program for individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Sidebar Story:
A female presenting person gazes out a window away from the camera.

By Charles Whitaker

SSA Associate Professor Yoonsun has devoted her research career to exploring the myths and reality behind Asian Americans, whose achievements have led many people consider to be a model minority. Her work explores the diversity of the group, which includes 17 ethnic subgroups, each with its own story of success and challenge in the U.S. She has launched a new longitudinal study, which will add additional knowledge about the understudied Asian Americans by examining parenting practices in a longitudinal study of Korean American and Filipino American families in the Chicago area. The study will look at the impact of a variety of parenting styles on children as they move into adulthood.


A polished marble bench with the words "Social Service Administration" engraved into it.

SSA is an institution where people wade into a maelstrom of challenges as a means to understand how problems start so they can define those problems and shape solutions.

A male-presenting person faces towards the camera and smiles.

Our bottom line is people. Whether we are delivering therapeutic services, writing a grant, developing a program or policy, assessing the needs of a community, advocating or testifying, launching a new enterprise, or teaching and conducting research, the end goal of all our work is to improve the lives of those most in need. 

A woman with light skin looking towards the camera in front of a bookshelf.

The Child Care Assistance Program is one of several social policies serving low-income families studied by SSA Professors Julia Henly and Marci Ybarra. In this issue’s Conversation, Henly and Ybarra discuss their work and the topic of child care generally.

A view of a modern-style building from the outside.

Payday lenders have come under attack from critics who complain that they prey upon the poor and mire them deeper in poverty. With annualized interest rates as high as 1,000 percent, the cost of a payday loan is high indeed.

A polished marble bench with the words "Social Service Administration" engraved in it.

Recent studies suggest that for many poor families housing remains a serious problem. Despite the economic recovery, the need for affordable housing still outstrips the demand. Eviction and homelessness are common, with several million families evicted each year.

A view of a modern-style building from the outside.

Europe is rethinking the welfare state. Faced with high costs, some countries are trying to shift their burdens from government to communities, away from professional services toward volunteerism and self-help.

A view of a modern-style building from the outside.

Sometimes something as small as a letter can be one of the numerous keepsakes that trap people plagued by hoarding disorder, says Mary DeVan, AM ’72, who has a practice helping people with the problem.

Outdoor concrete steps with a marble bench visible in the background.

When social workers speak up about what they see in the field, such as the struggles people have in qualifying for public housing, bureaucracy can be moved. The voices of social workers are particularly important now as nonprofit organizations rely on government funding today more than ever, and are assuming a more active role in the public-private collaborations they find themselves in as a result.

School News

When the mayor of Seattle sought support for a city-supported preschool program, one of the first calls he made was to Children’s Home Society of Washington (CHSW), which has been under the 25-year leadership of Sharon Osborne, AM ’72, someone who has devoted her career to improving the lives of children.

The increasing proportion of minority groups has marked the United States as one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. The U.S. Census reports that in 2014, there were 52 million white children under the age of 18, a number that will fall to 35.6 million by 2060. 

After a rewarding 40-year career as a social worker, Susan Rosenson, AM ’65, is contributing to the future of the profession by supporting fellowships for SSA students. She and her husband, Edward, a retired CPA, who live in Los Angeles, have supported fellowships at the School, including the Susan and Edward Rosenson Fellowship, established in 2007 and another fellowship established in 2014.

Shirley R. (Toubus) Brussell, AB ’41, EX, ’42, 94, died in October 2014. A pioneer in older adult employment and equal treatment, she was the founding executive director of the National Able Network (Ability Based on Long Experience).

Joshua F. Cohen, a former SSA faculty member, died April 2, 2015. He was 88. During his career at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration between 1968 and 1982 he served as assistant professor, lecturer, senior lecturer, and director of the Community Mental Health Program.