Margaret Lloyd, Ph.D. candidate, chose to attend KU School of Social Welfare because she wanted to work with Jody Brook. She met Jody while she was working as a children’s program facilitator at First Call (the Kansas City affiliate of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence). Margaret was very interested in Jody’s community practice-based research and her preference for incorporating quantitative and qualitative analysis to paint a more complete picture of her inquiry. Margaret wanted to learn from Jody about how social workers were improving outcomes for children, adults, and families affected by substance abuse.
“Getting a research assistantship with Jody that would cover the cost of my education and provide a stipend made coming to the KU School of Social Welfare a no-brainer. I was also accepted without an M.S.W. and was able to continue living in Kansas City, so the short commute was another perk.”
Margaret is focusing on the intersection of substance abuse, child well being, and the legal system. She is concentrating on her dissertation research on the influence of drug testing in child welfare courts.
Even though it is still early in her career, Margaret has had the opportunity to conduct community-based research at two family drug courts.
“Family drug courts are an innovative approach to addressing substance abuse among child welfare involved families, but best practices within family drug court programs haven’t been systematically evaluated. The results of that study are being published in the peer-reviewed literature.”
She has also been able to travel to Hong Kong to present the initial findings at a global social sciences conference and hopes those efforts will help move future research, practice, and policy in the right direction.
“I have had a phenomenal experience at KU. I have put in 110 percent and have gotten that back plus more. I’ve had more opportunities to learn, grow, push myself, and transform into a better researcher, scholar, and advocate, than I could have ever imagined.”
While working with Jody, Margaret has worked on two of the Regional Partnership Grant projects, one serving families at risk of entering the child welfare system in Oklahoma and one serving families involved in family drug court in Iowa. Both of the sites have fully implemented the Strengthening Families Program, which is an evidence-based family skills program. The Iowa site has also implemented the Celebrating Families program, which is designed specifically for families with substance abuse. She has also learned about practice-based research as a result of working on those projects.
Margaret has had the opportunity to provide extensive technical assistance to the clinical workers at each site, including educating them about the process of research, including informed consent procedures, data collection and management, data entry, and other aspects of program implementation.
“Building relationships with the clinical workers who are implementing the program we are researching has been integral. Jody calls this approach “researcher-in-environment,” an approach I intend to adopt when I’m eventually heading up projects myself. She sets the example of the type of researcher I want to be.”
“The mentoring relationship between a GRA (in this case, Margaret) and her faculty mentor (me) provides a forum through which doctoral students can learn about many aspects of academic life. In this case, by working with Margaret on research projects, I was able to teach her about the content and process of research, and show her about the daily realities of applied research. She has been able to take the content of her courses and watch it 'come to life' in the work that we do together. It's been wonderful!” Jody Brook, assistant professor, KU School of Social Welfare.