Michael Hurlburt, an assistant professor at the USC School of Social Work, has been named Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW)-California Chapter for his discipline-crossing work that uses social and psychological research to implement treatments for families and children, particularly those involved in the child welfare system.
After winning the Public Citizen of the Year Award for San Diego and Imperial counties earlier this year, Hurlburt was automatically entered into the statewide pool with other regional recipients and emerged as one of two winners.
“I am tremendously satisfied that the research I conduct contributes to understanding the needs of, and informs the well-being of, children and families in California,” Hurlburt said. “At the most basic level, that’s what I want my work to accomplish.”
Since 1995, the NASW-California Chapter has chosen outstanding members of the community whose accomplishments exemplify the values and mission of the profession of social work.
As a developmental psychologist, Hurlburt has used research as a means of planning and implementing behavioral techniques for social work practices. His current work focuses on using technologically supported behavioral measurements to improve the prediction and prevention of unplanned foster placement disruptions.
“My hope is that I have received the award primarily because I try to commit my work to making a difference in the community,” Hurlburt said. “[That difference is] through the research that I do, through direct involvement in community change efforts and through working closely with students to prepare them to make a difference in the world around them.”
In addition to his academic duties, Hurlburt is active in several organizations in the San Diego area, including San Diego County Child Welfare Services and the military community. He is also 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 well-established parent training program in multiple counties in California aimed at reducing children’s aggression and increasing social competence.
“Given Michael’s level of energy and commitment to research on foster children and their families, he is certainly one of our most deserving faculty members,” said Marilyn Flynn, dean of the School of Social Work.
Hurlburt will be honored on Oct. 27 at the 2012 NASW-California Chapter Conference in Irvine, Calif.