Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research
About the Center
The mission of the Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research (Center) is to engage in University-community partnerships that advance knowledge about effective social welfare policies, programs, and services and promote social, racial and economic justice.
As a unit of the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Center involves faculty and staff in public service and research activities that address the social conditions and needs of urban communities, families and children, and especially those who are poor. The Center conducts research and evaluation studies, analyzes public policies, disseminates research findings, tests new program models and service delivery strategies, and provides assistance to organizational leaders in implementing policy directives.
Publications, community forums, conference presentations and other public appearances, workshops and trainings, and social media are among the different means the Center uses to inform the public and increase awareness of social conditions. The criminal justice system, human rights, and health equity provide the focus for most Center work.
Research and Sponsored Projects
Just Living Life
Under the direction of Dean Creasie Finney Hairston, and based in Memphis, Tennessee, Just Living Life is a study of the daily lives of Black men living in a mixed income, though primarily poor, urban community. Using interviews and focus groups, the study explores the challenges and problems men face and the strategies they use to bounce back from adversities. It examines Black men’s views of their primary roles and strengths, their perceptions of home and community life and their thoughts about community services and programs. Initial findings convey the extensive criminal justice system presence in many men’s lives and their limited use of, access to, and knowledge of formal services, including basic health services.
Just Living Life is one of a series of studies examining the impact of criminal justice system involvement on family and community life. Others include Dr. Joseph Strickland’s study of the post-prison employment experiences of African American men and evaluation of a correctional boot camp program.
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. Examples of recent and ongoing work include:
- Providing 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.
- Helping Starting All Over Outreach Ministry, a faith-based grassroots organization in Memphis, Tennessee, 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.
- 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.
- Documenting the history and accomplishments of Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE), a national grassroots prison reform organization.
- In partnership with the Illinois African American Family Commission, staffing 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 December 2013 report.
- Providing policy level assistance to State of Illinois 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.
Community Education and Public Awareness Activities
Multiple means are used to raise community awareness and inform diverse publics about social conditions and needs, effective interventions, and program resources. Activities include publishing papers, sponsoring forums and conferences, and producing short films and documentaries.
Summits on Reentry, Reintegration and Aging
The Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research has convened three Summits on Reentry, Reintegration and Aging, on May 11, 2017, November 29, 2017 and November 13, 2018. Participants have included community partners, former prisoners and family of prisoners, as well as public policy stakeholders such as the Director of the Illinois Dept. of Corrections, the Deputy Director of the IDHS Mental Health Division, a Senior Administrator from the Illinois Dept. of Aging, and a Director from the John Howard Association.
The goals of the summits has been to identify barriers to successful reentry for older persons, and to identify the services and policies that will support them in their transition.
In this video, participants at the November 2018 Summit talk about the issues facing returning citizens, as well as the importance of such events:
Summit on Reentry, Reintegration and Aging
Community Education and Public Awareness Activities
Journal of Offender Rehabilitation
The Center provides the administrative home for the Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, a multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal presenting empirical research and critical analyses of criminal justice program policies, practices, and services. The journal is edited by Center Director Creasie Finney Hairston and published by Routledge, a major academic press.
The journal serves as a professional resource for practitioners, educators and researchers who work with individuals involved in the criminal justice system and study the dynamics of rehabilitation and individual and system change.
A primary journal focus is the use of research to inform and improve correctional policies and practice. The range of topics included in the journal is broad and encompasses alternatives to incarceration; community reentry and reintegration; alcohol, substance abuse and mental health treatment interventions; services for correctional populations with special needs; recidivism prevention strategies; educational and vocational programs; families and incarceration; culturally appropriate practice and probation and parole services.
Conferences and Forums
Conferences and forums provide an important and effective means for engaging people from different backgrounds and interests in constructive dialogue and discourse about critical social issues. When held on campus and/or widely advertised in the social media they also raise the visibility of the Center, the College, and the greater UIC community.
Past forums and events include:
Taking the Next Steps: Discussing Implications for Research, Policy and Practice From SURVIVE (2019)
Millennials For Social Change: Building A New Political Agenda toImprove the Lives of the Disadvantaged (2019)
A Summit on Older Persons in Prison and Returning Home (2018)
A Summit on Reentry, Reintegration and Aging (2017)
Learn More »
Panel Discussion on Sex Trafficking (2016)
Learn More »
Transforming Justice: Mobilizing Incarcerated Mothers and Young Women through Community Action (2016)
Learn more »
Perspectives by the Policed: A Forum on Building Community Justice (2015)
Dads, the Streets, and the Criminal Justice System (2014)
Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research (MC 309)
Jane Addams College of Social Work
University of Illinois at Chicago
1640 W. Roosevelt Road
Chicago, IL 60608
Phone: (312) 996-3219