Changing Lives by Changing Policies

Sometimes, our greatest impact can be through providing evidence — research findings and other data — that can help agencies and lawmakers develop policies to address challenges in child welfare, substance use disorders and other social and medical issues.

For professor Mark Testa, a key to policy reform is finding innovative ways to bridge research and practice. Mark has worked closely with the Children’s Home Society of America to develop a practice-based research network that helps educate community leaders about child welfare. This effort focuses on those children most affected by persistent poverty, child abuse, parental substance use and loss of stable family life. Mark also helped organize the Wicked Problems of Child Welfare Institute, a series of discussions that involved national leaders in seeking solutions to the “grand challenges” of child welfare. The Society for Social Work and Research chose Mark to receive its 2017 Social Policy Award in recognition of his accomplishments in addressing important social work policy issues.