Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Acculturation of children of Bangladeshi immigrants in New York City: Intergenerational perspectives and alternative trajectories

    Author:
    Mohammed Alam
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Harriet Goodman
    Abstract:

    This study explores the acculturation experiences of thirty-three Bangladeshi second generation youths in New York City through in depth interviews. The researcher has observed and recorded interactions between youths and parents in the natural setting of their homes. The findings of this qualitative study, conducted in the tradition of grounded theory, are presented in four analytic categories: crossroads of acculturation dividing immigrant parents and children; gendered socialization of Bangladeshi children in traditional patriarchal families; influence of New York City on acculturation of these children; and their ethnic self-identity trajectories and repertoires. These frameworks reveal how intentionality and secondary socialization impinge on intergenerational cultural continuity to transform new New Yorkers; unlike their parents, the children renounce ethnocentricity, native country affiliation, and patriarchal value system. Bangladeshi immigrant parents contribute to the city's increasing diversity by remaking the city through burgeoning ethnic enclaves, in which they hold fast to cultural traditions. In contrast, their children remake the city and the city remakes them. They embrace a plurality of perspectives and the values of an egalitarian society. Because all the young informants are New Yorkers, their acculturation experiences are shaped in a diverse and multi-ethnic setting. They contextualized these experiences in comparison with actual and potential second generation immigrant experiences in "the mid-west" or upstate New York, isolated from a vibrant ethnic enclave and multi-cultural community. The study has also developed mid-level theories: immigrant children's acculturation is attributed to push-pull factors, shift from primary to secondary socialization, and intentionality compared with parents. Bangladeshi girls question gendered socialization and reject their parent's role in contracting arranged marriages more so than the boys. They benefit from the protection of stringent parental oversight, while boys' freedoms lead, in some instances, to antisocial behavior. In addition, the length of children's self-identity trajectories is matched by the level of complexity in their identity repertoires. A key implication for social work practice is that Bangladeshi parents reject services from members of their own community because they do not want exposure of parent-child conflicts within the ethnic enclave. Community-based services are unlikely to benefit families who need to resolve intergenerational discord.

  • "I'm not trying to go back": Young women's strengths navigating their return from incarceration

    Author:
    Nina Aledort
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Gerald Mallon
    Abstract:

    This is a qualitative, grounded-theory study of thirteen young women between the ages of 18 and 26 who were returning back to their lives in New York City after prison or an extended jail incarceration. The women spent anywhere from 8 months to 8 years incarcerated and were home between three months and three years from the time of their release. The study includes findings based on analysis and interpretations of the interviews, implications for future research and practice that center around the women's use of time while incarcerated, their connectedness to family, friends and staff, both while in prison and upon release, and the impact of both of those on their ability to stay free. The study includes implications for social work and correctional research and practice, and is grounded in women's relational theory and developmental frameworks.

  • AN EQUINE-FACILITATED PRISON-BASED PROGRAM: HUMAN-HORSE RELATIONS AND EFFECTS ON INMATE EMOTIONS AND BEHAVIORS

    Author:
    Keren Bachi
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Gerald Mallon
    Abstract:

    Policy makers and correctional authorities are seeking ways to enhance effectiveness of incarceration and reduce recidivism. Equine-facilitated prison-based vocational programs aim to rehabilitate inmates. Informed by the theories of attachment and desistance, this study evaluates the emotional and behavioral effects of such an intervention utilizing a quasi-experimental methodological triangulation design. Recidivism and disciplinary misconduct are examined by clinical data-mining of institutional records. Propensity Score Matching, binary and multinomial logistic regressions are applied in a discrete-time event history analysis. Semi-structured interviews revealing the subjective experiences of participants are analyzed via the Listening Guide methodology. Quantitative questionnaires, exploring attachment and closeness to horses as compared to humans, are analyzed by linear regressions. Quantitative findings suggest that program participants have a statistically lower chance to recidivate as compared with the control group. Otherwise, a reduction in the severity of disciplinary misconduct was not found. Findings of the questionnaires suggest that horses are approached as attachment figures, including all four features, while higher levels of attachment and closeness to horses were evident among older participants with stronger attachments to their mothers. Qualitative findings show the roles of human-horse relations within prison-context. Emotional features highlight the importance of providing alternative opportunities to experience companionship, which may help inmates process their relational issues and improve competencies. Additionally, the program helps inmates to cope with psychological impact of imprisonment. Behavioral features demonstrate how the program allows inmates to perform as mature individuals while being involved in meaningful activities, which can generate pro-social skills. Social learning exhibit how participants interpreted herd dynamics by projecting human interactions on horses. These could be further discussed to enhance social awareness and develop alternative approaches toward social situations. Furthermore, participants' evaluation of the program and vocational features reveal vocational skills that may be transferable to other settings. Adding an intervention that would help bridge between experiences in the program and other vocations after release could enhance the program's broad impact. Knowledge gleaned from this inquiry has practical implications for the program, and suggests that rehabilitative approaches toward corrections can contribute to a more humane treatment of this population while also benefiting society.

  • Fostering Adolescents: A Foster Parent Perspective on Raising Adolescents

    Author:
    William Bell
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Dr. Harriet Goodman
    Abstract:

    Abstract FOSTERING ADOLESCENTS: A FOSTER PARENT PERSPECTIVE ON RAISING ADOLESCENTS IN FOSTER CARE by William Caine Bell Adviser: Professor Harriet Goodman The U.S. Adoptions and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System indicates adolescents comprise more than 45% of the total foster care population. They are approximately 40% of new placements into foster care but represent less than 20% of children adopted from foster care each year. This exploratory study sought to illuminate the voices of foster parents raising adolescents in their homes. The study identified foster parents' perspectives on (a) policy improvement needs from the State child welfare system, (b) assistance required from the State to improve adult outcomes for adolescents in their care, and (c) training parents needed to be successful in fostering adolescents. Utilizing semistructured interviews, this qualitative study examined the experiences of 17 foster families raising teenagers in family foster care settings. The sample was primarily White and middle class; all informants were King County, Washington, residents. Study participants had an average of 17 years as foster parents and had collectively fostered more than 3,000 youth. Key findings suggest that knowledge of the motivations of foster parents provides useful information to improve recruitment, training, and support strategies for child welfare systems. Foster parents who were successful with adolescents expanded their role beyond the basic requirements of the State system. Consistent, easily accessible respite services were critical to maintaining successful foster parenting for adolescents. Results suggest a need for future research to examine perspectives of other stakeholders to improve adult outcomes for adolescents emancipating from foster care. These include social workers, adolescents in foster care, systems administrators, and birth parents. Additional inquiry should explore the relationships between foster parents and young adults formerly in their care and how these interactions affect their life outcomes. Finally, more exploration would illuminate the potential for child welfare systems and other community institutions to promote resiliency in youth in foster care. This study describes two midlevel theories emerging from the voices of study participants: (a) features of foster parents and child welfare institutions that promote risk or resilience for adolescents aging out of foster care and (b) fostering the future for adolescents in foster care: a path toward hope and improved outcomes.

  • Arts Work: A Typology of Skills for Arts-Based Group Workers

    Author:
    Mary Bitel
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Harriet Goodman
    Abstract:

    The arts are utilized in groups across the applied humanities and social sciences with a wide range of populations to address a multitude of individual, group, and community needs. Despite literature suggesting challenges to the implementation of mutual aid based groups in social work, a body of empirical evidence exists on the use and benefits of the arts in working with groups across social science disciplines, including social work. In groups that utilize purposeful activity, balance of group process and task completion is integral to the development of the group as a system of mutual aid. Through interviews with a sample of expressive arts group practitioners, this study sought to identify the skills expressive artists used and to determine whether those skills had a significant impact on group dynamics. This study explored expressive artists' rationale for the intervention skills they used. It also explored whether their work with groups suggested additional skills beyond those articulated in the social work literature to promote group dynamics including development of a system in mutual aid and the balance of group process and creative task completion. The researcher developed a performance-based typology of skills in response to how expressive artists described the skills and tools they used in activity-based group work. This typology reflected a focus on performance-rooted traits, facilitative skills, and interventions that resembled aspects of the interactional or mutual aid approach to group work but moved beyond that model to address the unique aspect of creative arts in groups. The typology of skills presented in this study suggest an expanded and highly engaged role for the worker; it supports a fluid, cyclical quality in the use of skills and interventions that moves beyond the approach provided in traditional models of social group work. Most significantly, it suggests that arts-based group worker's primary and essential task lies in the consistent balance of group process and creative task completion. Engagement around both process and task promote the transmission of voice to group members, a significant aspect of this study that has implications for anti-oppression work across the field of social work.

  • We don't give birth to thugs; we give birth to children: The emotional journeys of African-American mothers raising sons under American racism

    Author:
    Robyn Brown-Manning
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Willie Tolliver
    Abstract:

    ABSTRACT We don't give birth to thugs; we give birth to children: The Emotional Journeys of African-American Mothers Raising Sons under American Racism by Robyn Brown-Manning The emotions of African-American mothers of sons are an understudied area in social work research. Given the disproportionate representation of Black male youth on social service caseloads, a more in-depth understanding of their mothers' experiences while raising them is very important. Using group storytelling formats, this qualitative study examines the emotional content of a small cohort of African-American mothers in New York City and Westchester County, New York, with sons ranging in age from infancy through 30. Viewed through the theoretical frames of Africana womanism and nonfinite loss, the study finds that African-American mothers of sons are emotionally fatigued. They fear for their sons' safety in the presence of police. They worry about a variety of factors that affect their sons' well-being. The mothers feel guilty about choices they have made in life, particularly regarding husbands. They often feel abandoned, and long for stronger connections with other African-American mothers of sons. Throughout everything, they love their sons and are very proud of them. Practice implications include reframing challenging emotional expressions and behaviors as indicators of emotional fatigue; forming alliances with African-American mothers of sons to address oppressive practices in law enforcement and schools; and co-creating culturally grounded support groups with African-American mothers of sons.

  • "There" is Home: A Case Study of the Colored Orphan Asylum in New York City

    Author:
    Melba Butler
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Gerald Mallon
    Abstract:

    The General Report to the White House Conference on Child Health and Protection in 1933 stated that as a rule "public and private agencies for dependent children have not concerned themselves with the special problems of the Negro, Mexican, Puerto Rican and Indian...Differences in culture, tradition, language and other factors of race and nationality call for a special body of knowledge and specialized methods of meeting those needs that are common to all. Failure to understand this has resulted in the neglect of certain groups, and lack of the needed specialized care" (Folks & Murphy, 1933, 17). More than 75 years later, findings indicate that youth exciting foster care are still fairing poorly despite varied policy and practice initiatives; Black youth, who are disproportionately represented out of home placement, have poorer outcomes than other populations (Hilliard, 2011; Hook & Courtney, 2011; Naccarato, Megan & Courtney, 2010; Osgood, Foster & Courtney, 2010; Center for Urban Futures, 2011). This inquiry seeks to broaden the discourse about best practices for Black children through case study of the Riverdale Colored Orphan Asylum in NYC, (COA), an historical institution founded specifically to serve Black children. Through oral and written narrative it unearths the experiences of COA just prior to the dissolution of its institutional care program. Findings suggest further study of the role of congregate care that might lead to improved outcomes for targeted populations of youth. The study also identifies how positive outcomes for children in care were impacted by reciprocity between COA and its targeted Black community.

  • Phantoms of Home Care and Victims of Designed Neglect: A Qualitative Study of Home Care Nurse and Social Worker Perceptions, Decisions, and Coping with Persons with Alzheimer's disease

    Author:
    William Cabin
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Irwin Epstein
    Abstract:

    Abstract PHANTOMS OF HOME CARE AND VICTIMS OF DESIGNED NEGLECT: A QUALITATIVE STUDY OF HOME CARE NURSE AND SOCIAL WORKER PERCEPTIONS, DECISIONS, AND COPING WITH PERSONS WITH ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE by William D. Cabin Adviser: Professor Irwin Epstein Alzheimer's disease is a major cause of illness and death in the United States, imposing significant social, economic, and psychological burdens on clients and their caregivers. Over 5 million, primarily older, Americans were estimated to have Alzheimer's disease in 2007, with most living at home, cared for by family members or friends (Alzheimer's Association, 2007a, 2007b). A literature review indicates that there are psychosocial, rather than medical, interventions which currently benefit the Alzheimer's population. Despite these findings, the Medicare home health benefit provides virtually no psychosocial care to this population. The literature review also indicates that there has been no research on how home care social workers and nurses perceive, cope with, and make decisions about this population and the consequent impact on their care needs. The dissertation addresses this research gap, interviewing thirty-three home care nurses and thirty-nine home care social workers. The overall finding is that the Medicare home health policy, as mediated by home health agencies, nurses, and social workers, significantly influences the care of persons with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers. Both home care nurses and social workers assert the lack of coverage results in a system with many unmet client and caregiver needs, high costs, and limited quality. As a result, nurses characterized persons with Alzheimer's disease as "phantoms" while social workers characterized them as "victims of designed neglect". Overall social workers and nurses conformed to policy, with social workers more conformist than nurses. Both social workers and nurses agreed that the more conformist their practice, the more limited the care and greater the unmet client need. Nurses and social workers were virtually equal as innovators, seeking creative, legitimate means to provide greater care, and rebels, invoking illegitimate means to achieve their goals. These coping strategies validated, in part, pre-existing theory of Merton (1938, 1957). Home care nurses expressed greater job satisfaction, ability to effectively deliver care, and ability to use professional training than social workers. The dissertation recommends research, policy, practice, and advocacy actions to create more cost-effective Medicare home health coverage of the needs of persons with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers.

  • Mutual Aid Processes in Treatment Groups for People with Substance Use Disorders: A Survey of Group Practitioners

    Author:
    Andrew Cicchetti
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Michael Smith
    Abstract:

    There is scant empirical evidence demonstrating the presence and importance of mutual aid processes in Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment groups (Crits-Christoph et al, 1999; Sandahl & Ronnberg, 1990). Consequently this exploratory, internet-delivered survey was conducted to further examine the presence of mutual aid processes in abstinence-based SUD treatment groups in the field and the variables that are associated with higher amounts of mutual aid. The sample for this study comprised members of NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals (n=484). In order to obtain information about group treatment in the field a trigger question was asked allowing the identification of respondents that had led a treatment group in an abstinent-based setting within the previous two years (n=369). The study utilized an author-created scale, the Mutual Aid Processes Scale (MAPS) comprised of 30 mutual aid processes. Reliability testing of the MAPS indicated high reliability, with a Chronbach's Alpha of .96. Factor analysis suggested that all 30 items related as a unitary construct. Univariate findings suggested that more than two-thirds of the possible mutual aid processes occurred with frequency. Of a range of 0 to 6, the overall score on the MAPS for this study was 3.89, with 4 equaling "frequently", reinforcing the finding that mutual aid processes occur frequently in the groups about which were reported. The amount of education and training received by the group leader was positively associated with the scores on the MAPS. Further bivariate analyses and stepwise multiple regression analyses suggested that the group leader's level of facilitation, frequency of meeting, and heterogeneous composition of membership with regard to mandated status were all positively associated with higher levels of mutual aid as measured on the MAPS, accounting for almost 23% of the variance on the mean scores of the MAPS (adjusted R2= .218). The findings of this study have implications for counselor training, social work education, and group treatment research.

  • The Graying of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Organizational Efforts of Community Service Providers in Adapting Facilities and Programming to Meet the Needs of Older Adults

    Author:
    Donna Corrado
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Michael Smith
    Abstract:

    Abstract THE GRAYING OF PEOPLE WITH INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES: ORGANIZATIONAL EFFORTS OF COMMUNITY SERVICE PROVIDERS IN ADAPTING FACILITIES AND PROGRAMMING TO MEET THE NEEDS OF OLDER ADULTS by Donna M. Corrado Advisor: Professor Michael J. Smith Persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities are living longer, thereby creating unique challenges for the aging and disabilities networks. This qualitative multicase study explored the ways in which six community service organizations serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have adapted their facilities and programming in response to the growing cohort of older persons in their care. The study focused on the following adaptations: physical plant, financial models, workforce, medical care and programming. Twenty-two in-depth interviews were conducted with executive-level staff of the six participating organizations. Data was triangulated through examination of archival data, organizational documents, agency web sites, and publicly available financial records. A cross- case comparison assessed the extent to which organizational characteristics promoted or impeded an agency's ability to make the adaptations necessary to facilitate the aging in place of its older consumers. The following theories contributed to the underlying framework of the study: successful aging, resource dependence, and structural inertia. Study findings indicated that the physical, financial and bureaucratic barriers play a more significant role in impeding or facilitating an agency's ability to make the adaptations necessary than does an agency's affiliation, complexity or relative size. Discussed are the policy implications related to the growing number of older persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as recommendations for future study.