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School of Social Work  |  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
February 2014 Strengthening Vulnerable Families  
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Simulated Poverty
In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr., the School of Social Work hosted a poverty simulation on January 24, 2014. The purpose of this simulation was to help the Champaign-Urbana community better understand the issues and hurdles that individuals face living in poverty. It was also an opportunity for participants to share their experiences and brainstorm how to begin, as a community, to tackle the challenges of poverty in Champaign County.

This exercise was held as a part of Champaign-Urbana's annual week long, MLK, JR. celebration, which included a community breakfast and panel discussions among other events. This year's celebration revolved around the theme, "Honoring the Civil Rights Movement as the Struggle Continues: Empowering the Dream...Make It Your Own." 

Christie Avgar, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and member of the King planning committee, helped organize the poverty simulation. She stated in an interview with the News Gazette, "We want to honor and highlight all he accomplished, but we also want to be cognizant that his work is nowhere near done. It's up to us to continue his work."

Participants in the simulation were given a variety of roles, such as disabled citizens, seniors living on Social Security, among others. They were given play money and faced a variety of challenges that those living in poverty face every day. The goal was to get participants to think about what they are going to do to move MLK, JR.'s mission forward to fight poverty.
Professor Finds Financial Penalties Trigger Welfare Exits
School of Social Work Professor Chi-Fang Wu and her co-authors recently published a study discussing financial penalties and their effects on welfare. Wu examined the efforts of work-related financial sanctions on nearly 1600 single mothers who were receiving cash benefits through Wisconsin Works, the state's welfare-to-work program. 

The Wisconsin program, known as W-2, replaced the federal cash assistance program in September 1997. Wu and her co-authors tracked these women for up to 42 months, from the time they entered the program until they no longer received cash benefits or August 2001 when the study concluded. 

Welfare recipients who received financial sanctions for failure to comply with the program's work requirements were from two to 33 times more likely to exit welfare - with or without jobs - and the effect increased with the duration of the sanctions. Welfare recipients who weren't sanctioned directly were more likely to leave welfare when their peers were penalized, suggesting that just the threat of being sanctioned can dramatically affect continuing on welfare.

"Once they have been sanctioned, recipients face different transition probabilities that may delay or hasten their exit from welfare," Wu said. "The higher the agency's sanction rate, the greater recipients' perceived risk of being sanctioned, which can influence behavior in ways that prompt people to leave the program.

To read the full study online, click here.
23rd Annual Daniel S. Sanders Peace and Social Justice Lecture
Mark Your Calendars
Will North Korea Ever Be Free? 
Reflections from the Front Lines in the Battle for Human Rights in North Korea
Guest Lecturer: Suzanne Scholte, President of the Defense Forum Foundation and Chairman of the North Korea Freedom Coalition

April 7, 2014  
7:30 p.m.
Alice Campbell Alumni Center 
601 S Lincoln AvenueUrbana, IL 61801
When Suzanne Scholte became President of the Defense Forum Foundation in 1989, the Foundation chiefly focused on threats to American security and the need for a strong national defense. However, because all the countries that are a threat to the United States are also a threat to their own people, Scholte began an effort to promote freedom, democracy and human rights abroad in some of the most oppressed places on Earth. This effort led to her host the first North Korean defectors ever to speak out in the United States about conditions in their homeland. Since that time, she has hosted hundreds of visits of North Koreans to speak out about the horrific human rights situation facing the North Korean people ranging from survivors of the political prison camps to those who were victims of trafficking in China. In addition, Scholte has led numerous international campaigns to focus attention on the situation including North Korea Freedom Week to promote the freedom, human rights and dignity of the North Korean people. She has also been involved in aggressive outreach to the people in North Korea through radio broadcasts and balloon launches. During her presentation she will discuss the human rights situation in North Korea, the dramatic changes that have occurred in North Korea that give her hope, and what the free world must do to help the people of North Korea.

For more information, contact Brianna Rossbach at (217) 244-1064 or

This event is free and open to the public.
2nd Annual LGBT Research Symposium
An Interdisciplinary Symposium on LGBT Research in the Social Sciences
Intersectional Identities in LGBTQ Research

May 21-22, 2014

I-Hotel and Conference Center
1900 S 1st Street, Champaign, IL

Keynote Speaker: Russell Toomey, PhD, Kent State University

Dr. Toomey is an Assistant Professor in Human Development and Family Studies at Kent State University. His research examines why LGBT youth and Latino youth in the United States experience disparate rates of poor mental and physical health, developmental, and academic outcomes, and attempts to identify the processes that promote well-being and reduce risk for these populations.  


This year's program builds upon the success of the 1st LGBT Research Symposium that provided researchers with an opportunity to present their own challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned while conducting social science research with LGBT populations.


Call for Proposals: Proposals for presentation at the symposium should fall into one or more of the following categories

  • Original research with LGBT populations
  • Conceptual, theoretical, and/or methodological issues associated with LGBT research
  • Incorporating LGBT research in practice settings


Proposals should be submitted online and limited to 500 words. Submissions from graduate students are especially encouraged. Proposals may be submitted in the form of paper presentations or panel discussions. Accepted paper presentations will be formed into panel discussions based on similar topics. Panel discussions consist of four presenters and last 80 minutes. Submissions are due by February 28, 2014.


The final program will be posted in early April, 2014. 


For more information, please contact


Collaborators include: School of Social Work PhD candidate, Megan Paceley and Elizabeth Holman, MSW 2010, PhD student, Department of Human and Community Development.

Impact of Socioeconomic Crisis on Health Sector in Greece
Challenges for Hospital Social Work
Presentation via Skype
sponsored by the School of Social Work International Committee

February 19, 2014
12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

School of Social Work
1010 W Nevada Street, Room 2015

Presenters: Alexandra Vergetis, PhD, Senior Lecturer; Department of Social Work / Faculty of Health and Caring Professions; Technological Educational Institution of Athens (TEI); Katerina Pachi, PhD, Manager of Social Service Department, Thriassio Hospital, Greece and Assistant Professor at TEI, Athens, Greece. 

Note: Both presenters are located in Athens, Greece and will be conducting the presentation via Skype.
NTU-UIUC Biannual Social Work Conference
Call for Abstracts
The Department of Social Work, National Taiwan University and the University of Illinois School of Social Work present

Vulnerable Families and Care: The Opportunities and Challenges in Cross-Cultural Societies

May 22-23, 2014

National Taiwan University
College of Law
No.1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Road, Taipei, Taiwan


  • Cross-cultural social work
  • Diverse families 
  • Caring systems and service for people with disabilities
  • Elder care 
  • Workshop for evidence-based practice and research


Complete the required form and submit your abstract here by February 28, 2014. For more information and submission guidelines, click here.

Class Notes
Randall Egdorf, MSW 1986, Department Chair and Assistant Professor of Social/Behavioral Science program at John Wood Community College (JWCC), earned a Doctorate of Philosophy in Higher Education Leadership from Iowa State University this past December. Dr. Egdorf graduated with highest honors and his dissertation examined student retention. Prior to joining John Wood Community College in 2003 as an associate faculty member, Dr. Egdorf worked for Quincy University for eight years. Currently he is Vice President of JWCC Faculty Senate, serves on the Executive Committee of Faculty Senate, Professional Development Committee, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Associate Faculty Senate Committee, and Leadership Council. 
Social Work Posters and Cards On Sale

The School has social work inspired cards and letter press prints available for purchase!
  • 19" x 25" posters are on sale for $15 each, with six options of designs to choose from.
  • Sets of 12 greeting cards with envelopes are now $5 each.


To make a purchase, contact Brianna Rossbach at (217) 244-1064 or

In the January issue of the e-Column, Dr. Shaun Eack was innaccurately listed as having received his MSW in 2012. Dr. Eack received his MSW in 2003. We apologize for this error.
Simulated Poverty
Financial Penalties Trigger Welfare Exits
23rd Annual Sanders Lecture
2nd Annual LGBT Research Symposium
International Committee Skype Presentation
Biannual Social Work Conference
Class Notes
Social Work Letterpress Prints For Sale

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