Recent Submissions

  • Using Emancipation Checklists with Youths Aging Out of Foster Care: An Example from Prince George’s County

    Shdaimah, Corey S.; Summers, Alicia; Park, Eunsong (Wiley-Blackwell, 2021-07-21)
    This study examined implementation of a 12-item questionnaire, the Emancipation Checklist, designed to help child welfare judicial decision-makers (JD) identify and monitor older youth achievement of milestones toward adulthood. Drawing on case file reviews, focus groups with professional stakeholders and young adults, and court observations, we found that stakeholders, including youths in foster care, viewed the EC as helpful in catalyzing conversation and follow up. Inconsistent use and documentation and ambiguity of some questions impeded its value. We provide recommendations for clear and consistent use, follow up, and further research to examine the impact of the EC on readiness for adulthood.
  • Targeted Sympathy in “Whore Court”: Criminal Justice Actors' Perceptions of Prostitution Diversion Programs

    Leon, Chrysanthi S.; Shdaimah, Corey S. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2021-04-27)
    Using interview and focus group data (N = 44) from three study sites, we locate prostitution diversion program (PDP) professionals within logics of punishment and governance. While critical research on problem-solving justice emphasizes professionals' performative and quasi-therapeutic roles, inadequate attention has been paid to the contradictory logics of their roles. Involvement in a diversion program reinforces underlying assumptions about whom they are working with and what those people need, in ways that we argue require critical distance. Professionals exploit the paradox of assistance through coercion, and exhibit what we identify as “targeted sympathy.” Targeted sympathy enhances the ability of these professionals to use their discretion to help their clients, but it also elevates a narrow set of acceptable problems and interventions. Created with an understanding of street-based sex workers as victims, PDPs also rely on hyper-responsibilization, expecting defendants to bootstrap themselves over systemic hurdles with virtually no resources. Thus, while targeted sympathy may indicate a movement away from the “othering” that pervades contemporary penality, it continues to decontextualize individuals and assign blame and accountability.
  • Positioning social justice: Reclaiming social work's organising value

    Postan-Aizik, Dassi; Shdaimah, Corey S.; Strier, Roni (Oxford University Press, 2019-10-18)
    This article explores the value of social justice as a shared ethical ground for social workers worldwide. Constructions and interpretations of social justice are deeply affected by different perspectives, contested positions and unequal power dynamics. As societies become ever more diversified, these may hinder the centrality of social justice as a core value. Drawing on data collected from participants in a binational interprofessional seminar on social justice in multi-cultural societies, this qualitative study is based on interviews and visual analysis with 16 American and 15 Israeli social workers and social work students. Findings suggest that social justice remains a core value although it is both an organising and disorganising, unifying and dividing concept. The study explores the positive contribution of positionality to help gain a broader understanding of social justice and navigate challenges in implementation, practice and education in diverse and conflicted settings. Practical implications for social work practice and education are discussed.
  • Policy on the ground: caseworker perspectives on implementing alternative response

    Shipe, Stacey L.; Shdaimah, Corey S.; Cannone, Michael (Taylor and Francis Inc., 2020-11-10)
    There has been little focus on decision making in child protective services, particular as it relates to the implementation of alternative response (AR). Focus groups were held in urban, suburban, and rural counties where participants explored how organizational culture influenced decisions made for families when implementing a new statewide policy. The results suggest that decisions are not family focused but are mandate driven. Further, there was a lack of support at both the supervisory and administrative levels which resulted in moral distress and apathy. Suggestions for taking an organizational change approach that gives voice to the caseworker are offered.
  • “I‘m Literally Drowning”: A Mixed-Methods Exploration of Infant-Toddler Child Care Providers’ Wellbeing

    Berlin, Lisa J.; Shdaimah, Corey S.; Goodman, Alyssa; Slopen, Natalie (Taylor and Francis Inc., 2020-05-27)
    Research Findings The primary goal of this exploratory mixed-methods study was to obtain a deeper understanding of center-based child care providers serving infants and toddlers. Secondarily, we explored the potential for a two-pronged mindfulness-based caregiving intervention for such providers to (a) reduce stress and (b) support caregiving behaviors. We conducted (a) individual interviews with three child care center directors and (b) three center-specific focus groups in order to elicit background information on each center and its staff, providers’ views of work benefits and challenges, and both providers’ and center directors’ initial receptivity to a mindfulness-based caregiving intervention. Additionally, 23 infant-toddler providers from the same three centers completed an anonymous questionnaire that assessed demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, social and emotional well-being, physical health, and perceived job characteristics. Findings illustrate high levels of physical and mental health problems. Practice and Policy: Findings provide some insight into aspects of the work that may serve as stressors (e.g., low pay, responding to children’s challenging behaviors) and buffers (e.g., supportive relationships with coworkers and supervisors). Findings also illustrate center directors’ and providers’ receptivity to a mindfulness-based caregiving intervention.
  • ‘Ethics Are Messy’: Supervision as a Tool to Help Social Workers Manage Ethical Challenges

    McCarthy, Lauren P.; Imboden, Rachel; Shdaimah, Corey S.; Forrester, Patrice (Taylor and Francis Inc., 2020-02-05)
    Supervision is a critical component of professional socialisation for social workers that helps them develop skills to practice in complex private and public organisations whose values may be at odds with social work ethics. Research on the relationship between supervision and how social workers navigate ethical challenges is limited and has typically focused on managing the resultant stress. This qualitative study reports on the perspectives of 23 social workers representing diverse work contexts and experience levels who were asked broadly about their experiences managing ethical challenges in practice. After researchers engaged in an iterative process of open and axial coding of interview transcripts, six subthemes were identified within the primary theme of supervision: the importance of quality supervision, early supervisory experiences, components of supervision, interprofessional aspects of supervision, power dynamics, and the function and impact of supervision. Implications of the results for research and practice are described, including the need for supervisor training and support, exploration of supervision power dynamics, and how to balance creating a safe supervisory environment with need for accountability.
  • "we'll take the tough ones": Expertise in problem-solving justice

    Leon, Chrysanthi S.; Shdaimah, Corey S. (University of California Press, 2019-11-01)
    Expertise in multi-door criminal justice enables new forms of intervention within existing criminal justice systems. Expertise provides criminal justice personnel with the rationale and means to use their authority in order to carry out their existing roles for the purpose of doing (what they see as) good. In the first section, we outline theoretical frameworks derived from Gil Eyal’s sociology of expertise and Thomas Haskell’s evolution of moral sensibility. We use professional stakeholder interview data (N = 45) from our studies of three emerging and existing prostitution diversion programs as a case study to illustrate how criminal justice actors use what we define as primary, secondary, and tertiary expertise in multi-agency working groups. Actors make use of the tools at their disposal—in this case, the concept of trauma—to further personal and professional goals. As our case study demonstrates, professionals in specialized diversion programs recognize the inadequacy of criminal justice systems and believe that women who sell sex do so as a response to past harms and a lack of social, emotional, and material resources to cope with their trauma. Trauma shapes the kinds of interventions and expertise that are marshalled in response. Specialized programs create seepage that may reduce solely punitive responses and pave the way for better services. However empathetic, they do nothing to address the societal forces that are the root causes of harm and resultant trauma. This may have more to do with imagined capacities than with the objectively best approaches.
  • “I’m Doing Everything Right All Over Again”: How Women Manage Exiting Street Prostitution Over Time

    Gesser, Nili; Shdaimah, Corey S. (PubPub, 2021-07-13)
    Exiting the criminalized sale of sex, which we refer to as prostitution, is a complex, recursive process which has been rarely studied longitudinally. Using typical case sampling, we selected two respondents from a two-year ethnographic study of a court-affiliated diversion program in Philadelphia who participated in a total of eight interviews. Saldaña’s (2009) seldom-used longitudinal coding method was applied to conduct a fine-grained analysis of participants’ perceptions of exiting prostitution over time, focusing on participants’ motivations and actions. Respondents managed expectations of others and themselves and their sense of self-worth within a context of changing relationships, structural opportunities, accomplishments and setbacks. Viewed in a longitudinal context, the same relationships and structural hurdles often had a different impact on women’s motivation to exit at different time points. We argue that a longitudinal perspective of the exiting process is critical to avoid erroneous binary classifications of women as either exiters or non-exiters from prostitution, as the exiting process is more complex than what cross-sectional studies have previously revealed. Findings have implications for researchers of prostitution and programs for women exiting prostitution that should structure supports and (dis)incentives in a nonjudgmental fashion in line with this nuanced understanding of exiting over time. This is particularly important in criminal justice settings, where punitive responses have serious short- and long-term consequences.
  • Exploring the Use of an Emancipation Checklist for Older Youth (18-21) Exiting Foster Care

    Summers, Alicia; Shdaimah, Corey S.; Knoche, Victoria A. (2018-12)
    This paper examines the efforts of a court to improve outcomes for older youth who are exiting foster care by implementing an Emancipation Checklist (EC) to guide discussion around 12 stability indicators thought to improve youth transition to adulthood (e.g., education, employment). Over 90% of youth had medical insurance, all personal documents, a permanent connection, and could identify their core values. Less than half had employments or were engaged in educational or vocational training. Youth who exited when they were older and who attended more of their court hearings had more stability indicators. Implications and future research directions are discussed.

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