Spotlight: Professor Lawrence Berger | UW-Madison School of Social Work

Spotlight: Professor Lawrence Berger | UW-Madison School of Social Work

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I’m Lonnie Berger. I’m a professor of social
work here at the University of Wisconsin School of Social Work I’ve been here since 2004 and I was
really attracted to the school because it’s one of the a handful of social work
programs in the country that really do large-scale,
policy-relevant quantitative research, which is what I
focus on. So one of the most fantastic things about
the University from my perspective is that it’s incredibly interdisciplinary and
that rather than being organized around disciplines or departments or field, it’s really organized in a series of different
centers that are, that bring people from around campus
from different disciplines, faculty and graduate students who are
interested in similar topics. So my research is all quantitative in
nature and it focuses on how family resources, family structures, and public
policies are associated with family
functioning and well-being–particularly parenting behaviors and children’s
development. I do that across a wide range of policy areas, and a wide range of
populations. One of the things I’ve focused on a lot recently is
maternal re-partnering–so mothers getting new boyfriends, husbands,
cohabiting partners– what that means for the quality of
parenting children get and children’s eventual development. I’ve also looked at a wide range of policies. I do housing policy, child abuse and neglect policy, and
some income transferred policies, and
things like that. One area that I work in quite a bit
with my colleague Kristi Slack is really
around how economic resources influence child abuse
and neglect. So to what extent does, you know, drop in income or
drop in access to resources start a series of events that may
influence whether family not only decreases the quality of their
parenting to the extent where they may be more
likely to abuse and neglect, but also is more likely to come in
contact with Child Protective Services. So I hope that the work I do can
feed into policies and programs and help policymakers and program designers to develop policies and programs that benefit children and families, that create better environments for
children to grow up in, enable families to function better economically, function better in terms of general mental health, in terms of parenting, in terms of family relationships, and really create a society that’s good for kids.

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