Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

Filter Dissertations By:

 
 
  • 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.

  • Women in Foreclosure: Social Reproduction & Mortgage Strain in the Subprime Era

    Author:
    Amy Baker
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Mimi Abramovitz
    Abstract:

    Advisor: Professor Mimi Abramovitz This research captures the experiences of 31 single female homeowners with risky lending markets and mortgage foreclosure in the city of Philadelphia. In-depth, semi-structured interviewing was employed to build knowledge about single women's experiences with seeking a loan, buying a home, entering default and attempting to stall foreclosure. Thematic analysis of the data demonstrated that risky lending and foreclosure did not mark the onset of financial instability among study participants. Instead, it functioned as a tipping point for single women unable to access upward mobility and asset accrual throughout the lifespan. Women's status as the strongest members of a financially fragile network interacted with holes in the social safety net, lack of protective legislation and lending policies that placed them at risk of foreclosure. The research also indicates that the privatization of social reproduction acted as an amplifier and conduit of market risk that extends the responsibility for unpaid care work well into older adulthood. As a result, social reproduction revisited the homeowners either exacerbating or contributing to foreclosure and the early onset of disease and disability before women were eligible for Medicare and Social Security. When homeowners experienced mortgage strain they all negotiated with their lenders, increased hours at work, employed strict household budgeting and sought aid from social services to offset mortgage costs. Black homeowners (n=15) immediately searched for assistance, while White homeowners (n=15) were comparatively slower to contact housing counselors and service agencies. Despite these variations, when and how a homeowner searched for aid did not meaningfully alter the onset of default. To date, foreclosure policy and practice interventions have been predicated on an assumption that the onset of foreclosure is an isolated market event. In contrast, the women's lived experiences within risky markets and their personal encounters with the threat of default are tied to a larger context shaped by the prevailing gender division of labor, the erosion of assets and health within the context of a poorly resourced network, the failing safety net and the resulting shift of market risk onto female homeowners.

  • 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.

  • NATIONAL CHILD MALTREATMENT RESPONSE AND FOSTER CARE ENTRIES: 2005-2010

    Author:
    Zeinab Chahine
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Irwin Epstein
    Abstract:

    This study involves secondary analysis of the national administrative data contained in two major federal child maltreatment and foster care data systems, the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System and the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System for 2005 to 2010. The study examines the data related to screening in and determination of maltreatment reports (child maltreatment response), as well as the provision of services to children referred for maltreatment. The purpose is to determine how the child welfare services/child protective services systems responses to child maltreatment contributed to the 17% decline in foster care entries from 2005 to 2010. The trends show shifts in CWS/CPS systems' responses to child maltreatment toward increased family engagement. The findings indicate that despite the increase in numbers of children screened in for maltreatment, substantiation for all types of maltreatment (especially neglect, and physical and sexual abuse), declined. At the same time, unsubstantiated findings and assignment to differential or alternative response increased. Consistent with the decline in substantiation, post investigation services or post response services (including foster care) also declined. The study indicates a substantial decrease in disproportionality of Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander children in the child welfare system, although these groups continued to be overrepresented. Correlatively, Hispanic/Latino children increased as a proportion of the total population involved in child welfare, although they continued to be slightly underrepresented. In addition, there was a large increase in Hispanic/Latino children with unsubstantiated findings who received "other" post investigation services. The increase in the proportion of Hispanic/Latino children and the decrease for other racial ethnic groups, especially Black or African American and White children, contributed to most of the observed reduction in the foster care entries. There is some evidence of CWS/CPS' increased targeting of services, including foster care, to younger children and older adolescents from with some exceptions for children under 1 year of age. Possible explanations for all of these trends and implications for child welfare policy and research are offered.