Our applied social science research addresses the well-being of vulnerable children and families in Minnesota and globally with a focus on education and racial disparities. Below are summaries of our ongoing projects with links to more information about each.
Ghanaian women’s experiences of widowhood and property rights violations: The impact on women, children, and social development.
Although there are formal laws in place to deter property rights violations, Ghanaian women continue to be at risk of losing their homes upon the death of a husband. This loss in turn impacts not only the economic survival of the widow, but her children, due to a potential loss of educational opportunities and increased rates of poverty, leading to a greater generational and societal impact. This project addresses the impact of property rights violations, including the intersection and interaction of formal laws and local customary laws, on the outcomes of widows and their children in Ghana. Drs. Korang-Okrah and Haight continue to explore the social, societal and political implications of property rights violations as well as the promotion of developing positive avenues for intervention in partnership with Ghanaian men and women.
Youth dually involved with child welfare and juvenile justice
Although an estimated 61 to 83 percent of youth who cross over from the child welfare system to the juvenile justice system struggle with mental health or substance abuse problems, research related to this population is in its infancy. The Gamble-Skogmo Chair is collaborating with the Casey Family Foundation, the Juvenile Justice Coalition of Minnesota, and interdisciplinary teams from around the state to gain a better understanding of the characteristics and perspectives of Minnesota youth who cross over from the child welfare system to the juvenile justice system, as well as those of their caregivers and service providers. Information from this study will be used to enhance the adaptation and implementation of the Cross Over Youth Practice Model, which was developed by Georgetown University and is being implemented in five Minnesota counties. The Casey Foundation is helping to fund this research. more>>
Racial disparities in out-of-school suspensions
This project will address a central educational and social justice issue: racial disparities in disciplinary practices, specifically out-of-school suspensions (OSS). Nationally, black children are three times more likely than white children to be suspended, and OSS are associated with lower educational achievement and have been implicated in the achievement gap. The central research question addressed is: How do African-American children who have been suspended, their caregivers, and their educators interpret the practice of OSS, including the reasons for suspensions, the suspension process, the impact of OSS on children and families, and racial disparities? This research is lead by School of Social Work associate professor Priscilla Gibson, and findings will provide important context for studying the broader issue of educational equality in our complex society. The Metropolitan Research Grant Program in the University of Minnesota Center for Urban and Regional Affairs is supporting this research. more>>
Disability and maltreatment in cultural context
This project aims to allow U.S. educators and child welfare professionals to step outside the cultural context that we take for granted to examine creative ecologically- and developmentally-based strategies for supporting children with developmental disabilities. “Such understanding is necessary to design and implement effective prevention/early interventions for vulnerable children in our own pluralistic society. A comparative outlook offers a clearer line of sight on child welfare, one that is not occluded by the taken-for-granted assumptions of a single cultural perspective” writes Professor Haight. This is a long-term project conducted in collaboration with Japanese scholars including Post Doctoral Associate, Misa Kayama. more>>