USC School of Social Work doctoral student Megan Finno has been awarded a Doris Duke Fellowship for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect to support her dissertation research on the use of formal support services and informal supports among Latino immigrant families investigated by the child welfare system.
Funded by the Doris Duke Foundation and administered through Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, the multidisciplinary fellowship program was established to build a community of scholars who use diverse research methods to improve child abuse prevention practice and policy.
The selection committee chooses two cohorts of 15 fellows, who each receive $25,000 annually for two years, enabling them to make significant progress on their dissertations. A central feature of the program is the development of a sustainable peer-learning network among the fellows and mentors through a series of small conferences, webinars and social networking opportunities.
“As a fellow, I hope to expand my knowledge of innovative maltreatment prevention efforts happening at the national and local community levels by engaging with my student peers and expert scholars,” Finno said. “I believe this fellowship will give me a fresh perspective and expand the reach of my ideas by introducing me to a new set of multidisciplinary policy, organizational, legal and clinical scholars in prevention.”
Finno will continue to work with several School of Social Work professors, including her primary academic mentor, Lawrence Palinkas; Jacquelyn McCroskey, who provides a pathway to relationships with local agencies for collecting data on the child welfare system; and Michael Hurlburt, who has advised Finno on statistical and methodological issues.
“Megan has had a consistent, strong interest in the unique experiences of immigrant families coming into contact with child welfare services and policies related to both delivery of effective services and child maltreatment prevention,” Hurlburt said. “She is smart, direct, brings good ideas to the table and is always willing to learn as she seeks to develop herself and make contributions to the field.”
Hurlburt and Finno already are working on a paper together. Finno has contributed an important data set related to the experiences of families involved in child welfare services.
Finno hopes her research will find better ways to address the needs of immigrant families in terms of preventing maltreatment and facilitating their successful integration into U.S. society.
“Preventing maltreatment is key to children’s healthy development, well-being and success throughout the life course,” Finno said. “I think the smartest investment we can make as a society is to create policy that protects children and fosters healthy growth, as well as strengthens and supports the families that raise them.”
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