Recent Publications

30th Anniversary Newsletter

30th Anniversary Newsletter Journal Article Links

Moral Injury in Parents, Youth & Professionals

Cross-Over Youth

Disability, Stigma & Development

Indigenous Child Welfare

Racial Disparities in the Out-of-school Suspension of Black Youth

Journal articles

Ghanaian (Akan) Women’s Experiences of Widowhood and Property Rights Violations

Korang-Okrah, R., & Haight, W. (2015). Ghanaian (Akan) women’s experiences of widowhood and property rights violations: An ethnographic inquiry. Qualitative Social Work, 14(2), 224-241.

An ethnographic research project focusing on Ghanaian women’s experiences of widowhood and property rights violations:  The impact on women, children, and social development.

This study explored the intersection of formal laws with local customary laws on property rights violations for women who have been widowed.  As part of a larger ethnography, the authors identified the fundamental nature of property ownership to women’s economic survival, the impact on their children and the issue of social development.  Participant observation and in-depth interviews were conducted in Twi with 20 widows from the Ashanti and Brong-Ahofo regions of Ghana.  Women reported a disconnect between the application of national laws and the implementation of local customary laws that continues to lead toward gender discrimination in inheritance. Upon both the loss of a husband and the loss of property rights, women reported increased levels of losing possessions, being evicted from their land, as well as a loss of economic security.  Children of women who were evited from their homes were at increased risk for a loss of educational opportunities and increased levels of poverty leading to a higher rate of generational poverty.  Women who were interviewed discussed social support, spirituality and advocacy as sources of resilience.  The authors also discuss implications for international social work to include the importance of developing a comprehensive cultural understanding in order design and implement effective, culturally sensitive policy and intervention.

Disability and Stigma

Kayama, M. & Haight, W. (in press). Disability and stigma: How Japanese educators help parents accept their children’s differences. Social Work.

In this report, part of a larger ethnographic study, the authors examined the support Japanese elementary school educators provide to parents of children with relatively mild cognitive and behavioral disabilities, such as learning disabilities, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders, and high-functioning autism. Conditions that affect children’s learning and behaviors are widespread, but cultures vary in responses to children with such difficulties and their families. In many cultures, disability remains a sensitive issue due to lingering stigma. Japan’s recent implementation of special education services for children with mild cognitive and behavioral disabilities provided a unique context in which to examine otherwise taken-for-granted beliefs and practices related to disability. Participant observations in a Japanese elementary school and individual interviews with educators and parents suggest that parents’ sensitivity to other people’s “eyes,” or stigma, can be an obstacle to their acceptance of their children’s need for special education, permission for their children to receive services, and collaboration with educators. Educators supported parents through a steadfast focus on emotional support, communication, relationship building, and partnerships. Japanese practices and adults’ reflections on stigma provide a broader context for international, school, and other social workers to reflect on their own beliefs and practices with families of children with disabilities

Caregivers’ Moral Narratives of their African children’s out-of-school suspensions

Gibson, P. & Haight, W. (2013) Caregivers’ Moral Narratives of their African American children’s out-of-school suspensions: Implications for effective family-school collaborations.  Social Work, 58(2),1-10.

In this qualitative study, we examine the culturally-nuanced meanings of out-of-school suspensions for 30, lower-income caregivers of African American children suspended from school. Caregivers were invited to describe their experiences of their children’s suspensions during in-depth, individual, audiotaped interviews. Caregivers generally valued their children’s school success, recognized when their children had misbehaved, and supported educators’ imposition of appropriate consequences.Out of school suspensions, however, were rarely viewed as appropriate consequences.On the contrary, caregivers produced emotionally-laden, moral narratives which generally characterized their children’s suspensions as unjust, harmful to children, negligent in helping children with underlying problems such as bullying, undermining parents’ racial socialization, and, in general, racially problematic.Suspensions also contributed to some families’ withdrawal from participation in their schools.Understanding how caregivers can experience children’s out-of-school suspensions provides important clues to how families and schools can work together to effectively reduce racial disparities in out-of-school suspensions.

Engaging child welfare-involved families impacted by substance misuse

Robertson, A., & Haight, W.  (2012).  Engaging child welfare-involved families impacted by substance misuse: Scottish policies and practices.  Children and Youth Services Review.

Parental substance misuse occurs worldwide and child welfare professionals struggle with how to help parents involved with substance misuse while keeping their children safe. This study explores Scottish child welfare policies, beliefs and practices for engaging substance-involved families in child welfare services. Scottish approaches for engaging families are highly focused on child well‐being and relationship characteristics, prevention, resilience and recovery. Additionally, Scotland’s devolution from the United Kingdom has created a rapidly changing political climate where considerable attention, new policies and initiatives have been directed toward Scottish problems and family well-being. Many of these strategies are designed to change a deeply embedded problem of substance misuse, and considerable effort and resources have been targeted for long-term change. Using a qualitative mixed-methods approach that incorporates in-depth interviews, observations, and document review this paper examines Scottish child welfare experts’ experiences of working with parents impacted by substance misuse and the impact of new policies and programs. These initiatives are important to examine because, if successful, they may be helpful for understanding relational characteristics in other cultural contexts particularly those using holistic and differential approaches in child welfare.

Cultural sensitivity in the delivery of disability services to children

Kayama, M. & Haight, W. (2012). Cultural sensitivity in the delivery of disability services to children: A case study of Japanese education and socialization. Children and Youth Services Review, 34, 266–275

This ethnographic study examined beliefs about disability and related socialization and educational practices at a Japanese elementary school. Disability is a universal issue affecting child welfare and educational systems around the world. Yet, relatively little sociocultural research has focused on non-Western children with disabilities. This limitation restricts our understanding of the extent to which and how cultures vary in their responses to disability, and the impact of these variations on children’s development. Public schools in Japan recently implemented formal special education services for children with “developmental disabilities,” a new category used by educators to refer to “milder” difficulties in children’s acquisition of social and academic skills, for example, learning disabilities, ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome. This transition created a dilemma for educators: blending new requirements of providing individualized support with traditional Japanese socialization and educational practices of raising and educating children within peer groups. Participant observation, in-depth interviews, and longitudinal case studies of children with developmental disabilities addressed culturally- and developmentally-sensitive practices employed by educators. Educators were sensitive to stigma, involved peers in supporting one another, created home-like classrooms, guided children towards voluntary cooperation, and provided support and guidance to parents. Broad implications for the design of culturally-sensitive disability services are discussed. Read the article on the Children and Youth Services Review website.

The elementary-school functioning of children with maltreatment histories and subtle cognitive or behavioral disabilities

Haight, W., Kayama, M., Kincaid, T., Evans, K., and Kim, N (2013). The elementary-school functioning of children with maltreatment histories and subtle cognitive or behavioral disabilities: A mixed methods inquiry. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(3), 420-428.

This mixed methods inquiry examined the school functioning of elementary school-aged children with maltreatment histories and mild cognitive or behavioral disabilities. Quantitative analyses of linked social service and education administrative data bases of 10,394 children in Minnesota with maltreatment histories indicated that 32% were eligible for special education services. Of those children with maltreatment histories and identified disabilities, 73% had mild cognitive or behavioral disabilities. The most frequent primary disabilities categories were specific learning disabilities (33%) and emotional/behavioral disabilities (27%). Children with maltreatment histories and mild cognitive or behavioral disabilities scored significantly below children with maltreatment histories and no identified disabilities on standardized assessments of math and reading, and this gap increased with grade level for math. Qualitative interviews with 22 child welfare professionals and 15 educators suggested why some children with maltreatment histories, especially those with mild cognitive or behavioral disabilities, struggle in school. Risks to school functioning included children’s and families’ multiple unmet basic and mental health needs which can mask or overshadow children’s mild disabilities; poor cross systems collaboration between child welfare, education and mental health systems; and inadequate funding, especially for mental health services. Protective factors included child engagement in school, parent engagement with child welfare services and a professional culture of cross-systems collaboration. Implications are discussed for holistic child, family and system-level interventions. Read the article on the Children and Youth Services Review website.


MIXED METHODS RESEARCH FOR SOCIAL WORK: Integrating Methodologies to Strengthen Practice and Policy

Wendy Haight, & Laurel N. Bidwell Cover of Mixed Methods Research for Social Work

Mixed Methods Research for Social Work presents a step-by-step framework for constructing a mixed methods research project, along with a model for how social workers can play a sustaining role in the future of mixed methods research. In the first full length mixed methods research text for social workers, Wendy Haight and Laurel Bidwell illustrate the essential compatibility of social work and mixed method research.

Rooting their argument in the historical and philosophical foundations of the profession, they explore both Jane Addams’s contribution to American pragmatism and the proto-mixed methodologies employed by 20th century social worker researchers. The authors illustrate the  unique opportunities that integrated methods present for understanding the complexities and nuance of contemporary social problems that are the focus of social work research.

The second half of the book gives readers a clear, step-by-step guide for using mixed methodologies. Each step of the planning, design, and implementation process is illustrated by a contemporary research project and an interview with the researcher explaining their methods and rationale. This process allows readers to access the research process from both a quantitative and a qualitative stand-point, illustrating the variability and applicability of mixed methodologies to social work research.

Kayama, M. & Haight, W. (2013). Development and Disability: A Japanese Case Study. New York: Oxford University Press.

Cover of Development and Disability: A Japanese Case StudyThis book examines Japanese cultural beliefs about disability and related socialization practices as they impact the experiences of elementary school-aged children. Physical and mental conditions which impair children’s functioning are universal issues impacting child welfare and educational systems around the world.

While the American approach is well understood and represented in the literature, cultures differ in which physical and mental conditions are considered ‘disabling’. Currently, the Japanese educational system is in transition as public schools implement formal special education services for children with developmental disabilities. ‘Developmental disabilities’ is a new term used by Japanese educators to categorize a variety of relatively minor social and cognitive conditions caused by neurologically based deficits: learning disabilities such as dyslexia, ADHD, and Asperger’s Syndrome. Children who were once considered ‘difficult’ or ‘slow learners’ are now considered to be ‘disabled’ and in need of special services. This transition created an excellent opportunity to explore Japanese beliefs about disability that might otherwise have remained unexamined by participants, and how these evolving beliefs and new socialization and educational practices impact children’s experiences.

HUMAN BEHAVIOR FOR SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE: A Developmental-Ecological Framework – Second Edition

Cover of Human Behavior for Social Work Practice: A Developmental-Ecological FrameworkWendy L. Haight, & Edward H. Taylor

Contemporary social workers continue to face growing challenges of complex and diverse issues such as child maltreatment, poverty, unemployment, oppression, violence, mental illness, and end-of-life care across varied contexts. Wendy L. Haight and Edward H. Taylor present their book Human Behavior for Social Work Practice, Second Edition as a core text that will help students implement a consistent framework through which to approach multifaceted social issues in any environment, whether it be in inner city schools or rural nursing homes with individuals of different ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic status. Human Behavior for Social Work Practice, Second Edition uses the developmental, ecological-systems perspective as an analytic tool to show students how social scientific evidence helps us understand human development and enhances social work practice. Students will learn that by effectively connecting theory to practice, they can develop successful strategies to use as they encounter complex issues currently facing social workers.