Back to school update: School of Social Work

Current Research and Global Initiatives

Dixon Sookraj

In recent years, the profession of Social Work has been expanding rapidly across the globe.  China alone is planning to increase the number of professional social workers by an additional two million within the next few years. With this dramatic expansion comes increasing diversity in the practice of social work across nations and regions. The range of practices includes assistance to children, youth, seniors, families, organizations and communities, and human and natural disaster management. Larger scale practices include development of social welfare systems, promotion of civic participation, human rights protections and social development initiatives, putting people first.

Dixon Sookraj, an associate professor in School of Social Work has been the Canadian representative on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW).   He served on an international committee, which recently produced a document on the future directions for the profession - a commitment to action. This documents was received by the UN in March, 2012, and the strategic directions established for the profession are now been implemented in several countries. He now serves on a committee which monitors the implementation of the commitment to action.

As the profession expands in different parts of the world, different economic, political and social contexts influence the nature and scope of social work education, practice and research.

Shirley Chau

Funded current projects as principal investigator includes Developing knowledge to understand the health and wellbeing of immigrants in Kelowna, BC, funded by UBC Interdisciplinary internal grant, Provost’s Office, with co-investigator Carlos Teixeira.

Building knowledge on the determinants of health of immigrants in smaller cities is a photo and voice study to understand the health and wellbeing related to immigration and settlement in small and midsized Canadian cities from the perspective of recent immigrants. In Kelowna, BC, Red Deer, Alberta, and Brandon, Manitoba. Funding agency is the Canadian Institute for Health Research and co-investigators are Carlos Teixeira, UBC; Daniel Lai, Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary, and Judy Hughes, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba

Understanding the process of building social capital in the economic integration of recent and long-term Chinese immigrants is to understand how recent and long-term immigrants from Mainland China integrate into Canadian society through their development and use of social capital. This study is being  conducted in Vancouver, Calgary, Alberta, and Winnipeg, Manitoba. Funding agency is the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, 3 year funding starting September 2012 to April 2015

Co-investigators are Daniel Lai, University of  Calgary, Judy Hughes and Maria Cheung, University of Manitoba.

Chau’s research is focused on understanding how immigrants experience health and social services in Canada and how they adapt to meet their health needs, or not, when they are unable to access services. Related to this work is also a curiosity about how immigrants develop strategies to integrate into Canadian society through the development of social capital and the role that cultural factors play in building and using social capital for social and economic integration.  Chau’s research team has recently received 3-year funding from both CIHR and SSHRC to undertake studies in these research areas.  She is the lead researcher of these studies, all of which are underway this fall.  These studies will be completed in 2014 and 2015, respectively. As well, Chau is working with Dr. Teixeira from Dept. of Geography to conduct a survey with immigrants living Kelowna, BC to study their perceptions and experience of health and wellbeing.  This study is a one-year study funded by an internal grant from the Office of Research Services. 

Judy Gillespie

Network Governance to Address Off-reserve Aboriginal Child Welfare in Rural and Remote Localities, primary investigator, with research collaborator Dennis Whitford, senior advisor Aboriginal Services, Northwest Child and Family Services Authority. Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), amount $78,000. 

Recruitment and Retention in Rural and Remote Child and Youth Mental Health: Best Practices Models and Innovations, primary investigator. Funded by Lower Similkameen Community Services Society and British Columbia Ministry of Child and Family Development, amount: $61,600.

Education for Effective Interprofessional Practice in Child Welfare, co-investigator. Primary investigator is Robert Whiteley , Faculty of Education. Other co-investigators include Wilda Watts and Cathy Robinson School of Nursing. Amount: $10,000. Funded by UBC Okanagan Integration of Teaching and Research Grant, amount $10,000.

Rachelle Hole

Rachelle Hole is co-director for the Centre for Inclusion and Citizenship (CIC). The CIC research centre promotes the inclusion and citizenship of individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families. Her research focuses on the practices of social and economic inclusion informed by critical disability studies. Examples of current research include:

  • A Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council funded research project exploring the experiences of adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities living in Home Sharing situations, characterized by the placement of adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities within a home in the community, living as another family member or roommate.
  • A project exploring healthcare practices for aging adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities in British Columbia funded by the Vancouver Foundation.

In addition, to these projects, Hole is the nominated primary investigator on a Canadian Institute for Health Research funded project aimed at promoting and researching culturally safe healthcare practices for Aboriginal people in a hospital in the Interior Health Authority. 

Susan Wells

Director, Centre for the Study of Services to Children and Families

Selected UBC Projects as primary investigator include:

  • Complex Care and Intervention Youth Outcome Evaluation, UBC directed studies, with a Ministry of Children and Family Development  grant of $15,000 directly to students, summer 2012 and $19,000 for 2012-13 academic year through UBC. An assessment and intervention planning tool based on knowledge of complex, developmental trauma in children has been developed by psychologist and consultant Chuck Geddes.
  • Innovations in Social Services Delivery, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant of $45,000, and Ministry of Children and Family Development grant of $70,000. The purpose of this study is to provide information to support the Ministry of Children and Family Development's (MCFD) recent innovations in assessment and service delivery by providing a formative evaluation of the process.
  • Centre for the Study of Services to Children and Families, Canadian Foundation for Innovation, $180,000 grant for centre staffing and development. The Centre focuses on identifying effective services for children and families with an emphasis on serving diverse populations.
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for Aboriginal Communities, Institute for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention, seed funding; BC Interior Health; UBC Aboriginal Initiatives Fund, grants totalling $40,000 since 2010. The primary aim of this study is to identify evidence-based and promising practice models that effectively coordinate and deliver Mental Health and Substance Use (MHSU) services within Aboriginal communities.
  • Aboriginal Youth Suicides, with in-kind provision of a field placement researcher from the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Researchers intend to conduct a review of MCFD files of Aboriginal youth in British Columbia, ages 13-19, who have committed suicide or had multiple suicide attempts with the goal of informing policy and improving practice for Aboriginal children and youth.

Two-Year MSW Program

September 2012 marks the beginning of the School of Social Work’s Two-Year MSW program. The School has had an Advanced One-Year MSW program for over five years. However, admissions could only be granted to select students holding a BSW degree. The new Two-Year Program allows the School to accept any student holding a Bachelors degree. However, preference is given to students who focused on behavioral or social science courses. Twenty students were admitted into the inaugural class. Both the Advanced One-Year and the Two-Year program prepare students for clinical social work practice. Additionally, all MSW and BSW students will benefit from the new UBC Teaching, Research, and Treatment Clinic opening in January 2013. The clinic is a joint project equally shared by Social Work, Psychology, and Nursing. The clinic will initially host clinical teaching among the three disciplines and a funded clinical research project focused on children and adolescents.