McCormack Speaks

April 29, 2021
by jackli001

New Book Release From MGS Faculty – Karen Ross

Check out Karen Ross‘s new book release, Making Sense of Social Research Methodology: A Student and Practitioner Centered Approach

Rewatch the interview of Karen Ross’s New Book Publication! Uploaded on May 5th.

Making Sense of Social Research Methodology: A Student and Practitioner Centered Approach, by Karen Ross, Pengfei Zhao, Peiwei Li, Barbara Dennis (SAGE Publications, 496 pages, $85.00 paperback)

Making Sense of Social Research Methodology: A Student and Practitioner Centered Approach introduces students to research methods by illuminating the underlying assumptions of social science inquiry. Authors Pengfei Zhao, Karen Ross, Peiwei Li, and Barbara Dennis show how research concepts are often an integral part of everyday life through illustrative common scenarios, like looking for a recipe or going on a job interview. The authors extrapolate from these personal but ubiquitous experiences to further explain concepts, like gathering data or social context, so students develop a deeper understanding of research and its applications outside of the classroom. Students from across the social sciences can take this new understanding into their own research, their professional lives, and their personal lives with a new sense of relevancy and urgency.

This text is organized into clusters that center on major topics in social science research. The first cluster introduces concepts that are fundamental to all aspects and steps of the research process. These concepts include relationality, identity, ethics, epistemology, validity, and the sociopolitical context within which research occurs. The second and third clusters focus on data and inference. These clusters engage concretely with steps of the research process, including decisions about designing research, generating data, making inferences. Throughout the chapters, Pause and Reflect open-ended questions provide readers with the space for further inquiry into research concepts and how they apply to life. Research Scenario features in each chapter offer new perspectives on major research topics from leading and emerging voices in methods. Moving from this dialogic perspective to more actionable advice, You and Research features offer students concrete steps for engaging with research. Take your research into the world with Making Sense of Social Research Methodology: A Student and Practitioner Centered Approach.

Karen Ross is Assistant Professor at the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security and Global Governance; McCormack Graduate School.

April 29, 2021
by jackli001

The Family-Led Stability Pilot: Community-Engaged Research to Address Family Homelessness

(Top Row: Jokaimy Caceres, LCSW Parent Organizer and Advocate; Brian Beauregard, Public Policy PhD Student & CSP Research Associate; Olanike Ojelabi, Public Policy PhD Student & CSP Research Associate) (Bottom Row: Bianca Ortiz-Wythe, Public Policy PhD student & CSP Research Associate; Candice Harding, Parent Organizer & Advocate at Boston’s Higher Ground; Susan Crandall, Director of CSP)

Written by: Center for Social Policy

There are over 4500 homeless students enrolled in Boston Public Schools each year, and many more families will be at-risk of homelessness even as the pandemic eases. In response to this growing challenge, which disproportionately impacts families of color and those with limited English proficiency, a collaboration of public and private partners launched the Family Led Stability Pilot (FLSP). This cross-sector collaboration is key to the FLSP approach to achieving housing stability for vulnerable families, which targets seven elementary schools in the Roxbury and Dorchester neighborhood.

The Center for Social Policy (CSP), based in UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School, is conducting a multi-year comprehensive evaluation of FLSP. The FLSP partners include Boston Public Schools (BPS), City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), Boston Housing Authority (BHA), City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI), New Lease for Homeless Families, Project Hope, and Boston’s Higher Ground.

The frontline staff at local community-based organizations in Nubian Square play a critical role in the initiative, forging connections between families, BPS, essential services, and of course – permanent housing. In one case a grandmother had been the sole caregiver and provider for her two young granddaughters, students at BPS. Due to circumstances beyond her control, she and her granddaughters became homeless. For several months they lived in two shelters, and their lives were in a constant state of upheaval until Boston’s Higher Ground stepped in to give this family the help they needed through the FLSP collaboration. The grandmother noted:

“Kathy Drew from Higher Ground is so sweet. She came to visit me and my granddaughters where we were living. She helped me find a lawyer and she helped me complete paperwork that I did not understand. Now I have a Section 8 voucher and we are finally looking for permanent housing. I don’t know what I would have done without the help of Higher Ground.”

Jokaimy Caceres, LCSW, Parent Organizer and Advocate/Organizadora y Defensora de Padres and Boston’s Higher Ground summarized the underlying philosophy of FLSP: “The services I provide to homeless families are important because low-income families deserve to feel safe and secure in order to be able to achieve their highest potential. If individuals do not have their basic needs met, everything else will feel impossible to do.”

Paulette Mendes, Family Partner at Project Hope emphasized the importance of local partners working in tandem to help families: “This program is truly a reflection of “It takes a village.”  Through this wonderful collaboration, we have been able to house many families. Not only house them but provide them with a place to call home.  For many of our families, this is the first time that their children have their own room, not to mention their own beds.  This would not be possible without all of the partners believing that housing is a human right and it takes a village to make it happen.”

The staff at community-based organizations empathize with the clients they serve: “I serve homeless families because as a single mother myself, I understand the challenges that many of our families face day to day. To be able to assist a family with locating affordable housing and hearing how excited they are when they finally receive their keys, is so rewarding for me.” said Candice Harding, Parent Organizer and Advocate at Boston’s Higher Ground.

Public Policy doctoral student and CSP research associate Olanike Ojelabi, who conducts qualitative interviews with families, shared “I feel connected to this project because it aligns with my research goals to advance social and economic wellbeing for vulnerable and underserved populations. Working on this project as an interviewer is emotionally challenging but also inspiring as I listen to the difficult experiences of these families, as well as their strength and resilience to find shelter and a build a home for themselves and their children. “

Public Policy doctoral student and CSP research associate Brian Beauregard added: “CSP and the partners of FLSP are deeply committed to serving families that are experiencing financial and housing instability.  The qualitative research, which includes interviews with families that have been served by FLSP, is important to the success of the initiative. It gives families a much-needed voice and their perspectives are invaluable; it will give an in-depth view of how the initiative is working. This research greatly aligns with my own values and research interests to serve the greater community and to play a role in helping all families to thrive.”

CSP Director Susan Crandall summed up: “The FLSP is at the heart of what we do at the Center for Social Policy:  It is local community-engaged research focused on very low-income families, typically headed by women of color. It recognizes the complexity of family homelessness, crossing sectors and policy domains. It is a two-generation strategy that directly engages BPS families to help them connect with critical services and permanent housing. Our mixed-methods evaluation centers on hearing the voices of impacted women to develop policies to eliminate family homelessness.”

The evaluation is also staffed by Public Policy doctoral student and CSP research associate Bianca Ortiz-Wythe, Senior Research Fellow Susan Foley and Senior Research Associate Ngai Kwan, both based at the Institute for Community Inclusion.

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