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Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research

About the Center
Research Projects
Service Projects
Consultation and Technical Assistance
Publications Based on Center Work
In the News
Center Staff
Contact Us

About the Center

The mission of the Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research (Center) is to engage in University-community partnerships which advance knowledge about effective social welfare policies, programs, and services and promote social, racial and economic justice. As an administrative unit of the Jane Addams College of Social Work (College) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the Center involves faculty and staff in public service and research activities which address the social conditions and needs of urban communities, families and children, especially those who are poor. The Center conducts research and evaluation studies, analyzes public policies, disseminates research findings, holds forums on important policy issues, tests new program models and service delivery strategies and provides assistance to organizational leaders in implementing policy directives.

The Center seeks to:

  1. Enhance knowledge and understanding of social conditions and needs;
  2. Support the implementation of effective and compassionate social policies, program models and social service approaches;
  3. Assess the impact of policy changes on poor families, children and communities; and
  4. Promote the use of social research and broad constituent involvement in social policy development, implementation and evaluation.

Research Projects

Strengthening Co-parenting to Facilitate Reentry of Mothers Detained for Substance Abuse Related Crimes: A Pilot Study

Principal Investigator: James Gleeson, PhD
This pilot study research tested the use of a treatment intervention for mothers incarcerated at Cook County jail and the caregivers of their children.

Preventing Recidivism of Boot Camp Participants

Principal Investigator: Joseph Strickland, PhD
This study evaluated how well equipped boot camp participants were to reenter their communities and the role the boot camp plays in that preparation.

Just Living Life

Principal Investigator: Creasie Finney Hairston, PhD
Co-Principal Investigator: Joseph Strickland, PhD
This research project seeks to better understand the experiences of Black men who live in inner city communities and their views about, and use of, community resources. The study also examines how Black men living in disadvantaged communities survive and go about daily living despite a host of risk factors and major disadvantages. The information will be used to help inform the development of more effective, appropriate, and culturally sensitive social policies and social services.

Building Social Capital for Stable Employment: The Post Prison Experience of Black Male Ex- Prisoners

Principal Investigator: Joseph Strickland, PhD
This research project examined employment experiences of former prisoners and the ways they build and use social networks. This study documented Black male former prisoners' experiences in finding and maintaining employment. The study also examined whether and how the formal and informal support Black male ex-offenders receive from personal contacts is accessed and mobilized. The research views men's employment status as both an individual issue and a social justice concern.

Family Communication during Incarceration

Principal Investigator: Creasie Finney Hairston, PhD
This national study examined the communications policies of state correctional systems to determine trends and changes in administrative regulations governing prisoners' communication with families and friends. Rules governing visiting, telephone, and mail correspondence are among the areas examined.

Incarcerated Parents and their Children

Principal Investigator: Susan Phillips, PhD
Co-Principal Investigator: Creasie Finney Hairston, PhD
The Incarcerated Parents and their Children study analyzed data from the 2004 national survey of state and federal prisoners. Among the areas under exploration were the number of parents in prison, children's living arrangements while parents are in prison, parental risk factors and parent- child contact during incarceration.

Human Trafficking in Illinois

Principal Investigator: Charles Hounmenou, PhD
This research project explored how human service organizations in a statewide human trafficking coalition implement state level human trafficking policies. Strengths and limitations of services for victims of trafficking were also examined.

Prisoner Reentry: Services Needs and Service Responses

Principal Investigator: Creasie Finney Hairston, PhD
Co-Principal Investigator: Joseph Strickland, PhD
This multi-state study and technical assistance project examines how different communities and organizations respond to the individual and family needs of persons returning home from prison. The project focuses on identifying effective and promising service models, convening potential partners, and providing technical assistance to improve policies and practices.

Service Projects

Central West Case Management Unit

Started as a demonstration project several years ago, the Central West Case Management Unit now provides case management services for 12 hospitals and over 5,000 frail, older adults living in Chicago's west side neighborhoods. In addition, the Unit serves as a research site for faculty and doctoral students and field placement site for MSW student interns. The Unit is known as one of the best in the State and is frequently used to pilot new procedures and policy changes. Originally funded solely by contracts with the Chicago and Illinois Departments on Aging to serve only older adults, the Affordable Care Act has allowed the Center to expand the funding and service base to include younger adults who are recipients of Medicaid. As a participant in a coordinated care entity, some Center activities are now funded through a Blue Cross/Blue Shield contract.

Health care service

A 2014 contractual agreement between the Center and the State's Division of Mental Health and in response to behavioral health policy reforms has further expanded the Center's health care service and program evaluation agenda. Under this workforce development agreement the Center will provide curriculum development, training and assessments for staff members of newly designated Specialized Mental Health Rehabilitation Facilities. The Center's track record of community engagement, knowledge of special populations including those who have been involved in the criminal justice system, along with the positive reputation of the College's behavioral health programs, were instrumental in the State's selection of the Center for this important initiative.

Consultation and Technical Assistance

Consultation and technical assistance is an important public service for the College and an important element of Center work. Center staff collaborate with College faculty in helping community based organizations build capacity, assess programs, obtain funding, and address changing community conditions and problems.

Domestic Violence Technical Assistance Project

The Center's national Domestic Violence Technical Assistance Project has served as both a model and impetus for the Center's technical assistance work. The project initiated in 2006 provided technical assistance and training on domestic violence and prisoners' community reentry to grantees of the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). In addition to conducting training for grantees, the Center provided policy and practice briefings for Federal agency administrators and program officers and recommendations to improve, support, and sustain domestic violence prevention efforts of non-profit and criminal justice agencies.

Starting All Over Outreach Ministries (SAO)

A two-year collaboration with Starting All Over Outreach Ministries (SAO), a small faith-based organization located in Memphis, Tennessee grew from connections made and needs identified by SAO's participation in the Domestic Violence Technical Assistance project. The Center helped SAO build capacity and establish an infrastructure for external support. Staff experiences were documented and are serving as the foundation for a series on ways to support grassroots and faith-based organizations in providing effective prisoner reentry services and in building resource networks in poor, urban communities. This project also served as an impetus for the Just Living Life research study.

Other examples of technical assistance to small groups include:

  • Hosting the office of Citizens Alert, a grassroots prison reform organization that has been instrumental in bringing about major police reforms, and staffing the Chicago Coalition for Police Reform. The Center documented the history of Citizens Alert and facilitated the placement of Citizens Alert's organizational records in the UIC Library archives.

  • The Center documented the history and accomplishments of Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Offenders (CURE), a national grassroots prison reform organization. The CURE and Citizens Alert monographs are being disseminated to national audiences and can be used for teaching, research and advocacy.

  • At the State level, in partnership with the Illinois African American Family Commission, the Center staffed the Illinois Commission to End Disparities in the African American Community. The two-year long project included convening community meetings throughout Illinois to hear testimony from residents, conducting fact finding via literature reviews and analysis of Illinois social indicators data and participating in meetings with Illinois legislators to discuss findings and recommendations. Center staff also co-authored sections of the Commission's report released December 2013.

  • Current State level activities include the fall 2014 implementation of an intergovernmental agreement between the Center and the Illinois Department of Human Services. This project provides policy level assistance to State agencies in addressing and coordinating mental health service reforms required by three consent decrees. This work builds on the Center's prior work in addressing state-wide issues and its demonstrated ability to bring together different constituencies around critical social needs.

Publications Based on Center Work

Tomacic, C., Bonecutter, F.J., & Gleeson, J.P. (2014). "Restoring hope through coparenting for mothers involved with the criminal justice system." In E.J. Clark & E.F. Hoffler (Eds.), Hope matters: The power of social work. Washington, D.C.: NASW Press.

Gleeson, James P., Strozier, A., & Littlewood, K. (2011). Coparenting in multigenerational family systems: Clinical and policy implications. In James P. McHale & Kristin M. Lindahl (Eds.) Coparenting: A conceptual and clinical examination of family systems. (pp. 269-288). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Hairston, Creasie F. (2014). Editor's Note: Women Prisoners' Community Reentry and Reintegration. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 53.

Hairston, Creasie F. (2010). Foreword. In J.M Eddy & J.Poehlmann (Eds.), Children of incarcerated parents: A handbook for researchers and practitioners (pp. xxiii-xvi). Washington, D.C: The Urban Institute Press.

Hairston, Creasie F. (2010). Foreword. In J.M Eddy & J.Poehlmann (Eds.), Children of incarcerated parents: A handbook for researchers and practitioners (pp. xxiii-xvi). Washington, D.C: The Urban Institute Press.


Barens Receives Oscar Nomination for Documentary

Edgar Barens, Visiting Media Specialist with the Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research, received a 2014 Oscar Nomination for his documentary, Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Jack Hall, a film that calls attention to the growing population of aging and chronically ill prisoners and the urgent need to address end-of-life concerns in correction settings. Prison Terminal will debut on HBO on March 31. Read more at: https://news.uic.edu/oscar-nominated-film-focuses-attention-on-serious-topic


Creasie Finney Hairston, Ph.D.

Joseph Strickland, Ph.D.
Research Associate

Edgar Barens
Visiting Media Specialist

Jodie Bargeron, MSW
Mental Health Research Specialist

Contact Us

Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research (MC 309)
Jane Addams College of Social Work
University of Illinois at Chicago
1040 West Harrison Street
Chicago, Illinois 60607
Phone: (312) 996-3219
E-mail: policycenter@uic.edu