Michael Hurlburt, assistant professor at the USC School of Social Work, has been named Public Citizen of the Year by the San Diego and Imperial counties region of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW)-California Chapter for his dedication to preventing the neglect and maltreatment of children.
The award recognizes outstanding members of the community whose accomplishments exemplify the values and mission of professional social work.
“Winning this award came unexpectedly, but it was one that I deeply appreciate,” said Hurlburt, a developmental psychologist, who has pushed for evidence-based practices when treating children and families. “I was honored to be recognized by a local community of social workers who place the highest value on making a difference in the lives of individuals in the community.”
Hurlburt is active in several organizations in the San Diego area, including San Diego County Child Welfare Services and the military community. He also is an assistant research scientist at the Child and Adolescent Services Research Center (CASRC) at Rady Children’s Hospital, where he studies clinical practice patterns in community-based public mental health service settings for children and adolescents; implementation of evidence-based mental health interventions; and developmental risks and trajectories among children in contact with the child welfare system.
He actively leads one component of a large, ongoing National Institute of Mental Health-funded randomized trial examining the implementation of “The Incredible Years,” a parent training program aimed at reducing children’s aggression and behavioral problems in multiple California counties.
Hurlburt’s current work focuses on using technologically supported behavioral measurements to improve the prediction and prevention of unplanned foster placement disruptions.
“He is constantly working to improve the lives of people who may be struggling by focusing his efforts on developing methodologies that improve communication between service providers and clients,” said Tera Stefani, an MSW student and CASRC research assistant who nominated Hurlburt. “I aspire to be the best social worker that I can be, as modeled by many individuals at USC and in the field.”
Hurlburt’s enthusiasm for developing methodologies and increasing the role of research in social work practices has been recognized by students. Stefani said he is known around USC’s San Diego Academic Center as one of the top professors who teaches the research class in social work.
“Often times, research receives less attention for the role that it plays in understanding opportunities for making positive change,” Hurlburt said. “The fact that NASW recognized the work I have done over the years and my commitment to providing outstanding training to students is both humbling and a terrific reinforcement to continue pursuit of work that improves the lives of vulnerable children and families.”