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A city skyline in sepia tone.

By Julie Jung

To help address the needs of more than 1 billion citizens, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) wants to educate and professionally train almost 1.45 million new social workers in the next five years. Chinese universities have turned to the international social work community for guidance and inspiration and have helped create the China Collaborative, which has partnered with SSA and six other U.S. social work schools. With visits between faculty from universities in Mainland China and SSA, an increase in Chinese students at the School and more, SSA is working to share its model of social work education and research.

Sidebar Story:
Two different decorative blankets.

By Ed Finkel

SSA graduates who work overseas find that what they have learned at the School has prepared them for a diverse set of roles in a variety of countries and cultures. This article explores the experiences and perspectives of three such alumni: Shermin Moledina, who is consulting for the Caucus for Children’s Rights in Tanzania, which combats child abuse and neglect; Lisa Austin, who is the director of medical administration for the Sidra Medical and Research Center in Qatar; and Sarah Aulie, who launched the social enterprise Hand & Cloth in Bangladesh to give work opportunities for women on the streets. In the past several years, the School has added a growing set of courses and programs dedicated to international social work.

Sidebar Story:


A male-presenting person smiles towards the camera in a library.

The world is becoming much smaller and more connected. Globalization in the economy and advances in technology have contributed to unprecedented interconnectivity across borders. Problems of the most fundamental concern to the profession of social work—social exclusion, growing inequities, access to essential resources, even problems we most visibly address as “clinical” ones, like interpersonal violence or substance abuse—all have cross-national elements and repercussions.

A female-presenting person speaks away from the camera.

In this Conversation, Lambert and Josephs, who have collaborated on projects over the last 20 years, talk about why protection for work schedules is important, what’s in and what’s missing from the Schedules That Work Act, and what it takes for research to support and advance social change.

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

A growing body of research has shown that learning to regulate emotions—to manage feelings of anger, sadness or even joy—is a key part of human development. Research also suggests that this capacity is frequently impaired among children who have suffered from maltreatment, abuse or poor caregiving.

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

Residential care has become the “third rail” of child welfare, says Andrew Zinn, professor of social work at the University of Kansas. Roughly a quarter of all adolescents placed in substitute care by state or county welfare agencies live in group homes or other kinds of residential care facilities. This number has remained fairly constant for the past 20 years. But group homes or campus-like treatment centers are expensive, and some critics say residential care does more harm than good.

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

Fifteen years ago, programs to house the chronically homeless increasingly began turning to permanent supportive housing, or PSH, which combines subsidized housing with services to treat mental illness, substance abuse and other afflictions.

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

For two decades, SSA Professor Deborah Gorman-Smith has been studying and working in communities to combat youth violence, and she has seen a lot of programs fail. So it was with great pleasure that the director of the Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention (CCYVP) unveiled the early results of her latest study to the Centers for Disease Control last year: Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, which historically had homicide rates three times higher than the city average, had shown a drop in those rates by 50 percent from 2010 to 2013. Similar high-crime Chicago neighborhoods showed little to no decrease over the same period.

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

In Israel, although military service is mandatory for Jewish youth after high school, the military can decline to enroll anyone who has physical, mental or behavioral problems, such as a criminal record. Studies have shown that fewer young people who have been in the Israeli child welfare system join the military than their peers—–and that many who do face difficulties adjusting to the service. It’s a telling sign of the fact that, as in the United States, youth who “age out” of the child welfare system can have difficulty acclimating to life on their own.

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

Adults with serious mental illnesses have been overrepresented in the criminal justice system for years. Recognizing this fact—and with a belief that ignoring their needs in criminal proceedings leads to poor outcomes, both socially and clinically—a number of programs have been introduced around the country over the past two decades.

School News

Michael D. Rodríguez, AM ’07, knows Little Village as well or better than anyone. A lifelong resident of the bustling, dense Mexican-American community on the Southwest Side of Chicago, he has spent most of his career serving the needs of the neighborhood and its residents. 

Like other social sciences around the world, social work has had a longstanding commitment to knowledge production and utilization—a commitment motivated in social work by the impact of research on practice and policy making. Unlike other social sciences, however, in social work there are few comparative analyses between research in the U.S. and Europe. Indeed, one of the few studies on the subject that is available documents the “Great Atlantic Divide”—referencing the fact that the social work knowledge produced on one side of the Atlantic has little currency on the other.

After 45 Years, Associate Dean Keith Madderom Bows Out. For nearly as long as the University of Chicago has been open, members of retiring SSA Associate Dean Keith Madderom’s family have been members of its staff. 

Eileen Libby, AM ’64 (Library School), is tucked into the cramped office of the Social Service Administration Library, sitting in a creaky chair beside stacks of anachronistic card catalogue cabinets. It’s the first time the department’s matriarch has returned to the space on 60th Street since her retirement nearly two months ago.