March 31, 2008

Wayne State University launches research center to improve human conditions locally, regionally, nationally and internationally

Detroit social service agencies partner with university to meet urban population challenges at time when need is greatest in Southeast Michigan

Wayne State University's School of Social Work (SSW) has launched The Center for Social Work Practice and Policy Research dedicated to conducting research in high-need areas including: trauma and violence, criminal and juvenile justice, child welfare, services for older adults, family programs and social and community development. While the center will focus on serving Detroit and southeast Michigan, it will also meet national and international needs as it disseminates research and forms broad-ranging partnerships.

"This center exemplifies one of our major strategic initiatives - to promote the university's engagement with the urban environment," said Wayne State President Irvin D. Reid. "Through collaboration with government, businesses and other external organizations, Wayne State University will reach into Detroit, southeast Michigan and beyond to confront difficult issues affecting the lives of people throughout the region."

The center's faculty and staff will conduct research addressing some of the most challenging problems confronting areas from Detroit to sub-Saharan Africa.

"We are pleased to begin work on building the Center for Social Work Practice and Policy Research - the culmination of careful planning and hard work which will help us take the School of Social Work's (SSW) to a new level as an academic and community resource," said Phyllis I. Vroom, SSW dean. "The center will generate and disseminate information that will improve the lives of disadvantaged individuals, families, and communities, while enriching our community in Detroit and spreading throughout the globe."

The center will provide research on critical issues that face people from all walks of life. Among the issues to be considered are:

• How do we successfully transition the 500 youth in Michigan (20,000 in U.S) who age out of the foster care system every year?

• How can we help African-American and Hispanic women who are experiencing socioeconomic oppression manage their health care and their perception of powerlessness?

• With 4,578 cases of child abuse and neglect in Detroit, what role do fathers play and how can we limit the risks of paternal physical child abuse?

• How can we provide support to older, urban African-American adults who are debilitated by heart failure?

• How do poverty, violence, housing conditions and other community factors affect the 2,500 homeless youth in Detroit?

• How do we help the 5,100 inmates who return to Wayne County each year to find employment and re-unite them with their community and families?

• How do we strengthen support systems to reduce the rate of children living in poverty in Detroit (44% vs.18% Mich., 18% in U.S.)?

For more information on the Center for Social Work Practice and Policy Research, contact Dr. Joanne Sobeck at (313) 577-4439 ( or visit

Wayne State University is a premier institution of higher education offering more than 350 academic programs through 11 schools and colleges to more than 33,000 students.



Tom Reynolds
Phone: (313) 577-8093

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