|School of Social Work Dean Paula-Allen Meares (right) with Ann Lurie (center) and William Meezan, the Marion Elizabeth Blue Endowed Professor in Children and Families. Photo by Bob Kalmbach|
The Schools first fully endowed professorship was made possible by a $1.2 million gift from the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Family Foundation in memory of Ann Luries mother.
At the inauguration, attended by Ann Lurie and her son Andrew, Meezan said that in order for America to fix and improve its child welfare system, it must first address the precursors for children coming into the systempoverty, violence and drugs. For example, a higher minimum wage and greater access to health care insurance would be steps in the right direction, he said.
In addition, child welfare services should address childrens needs within a family context, involve community resources in the planning and implementation of services, and use interventions that are culturally appropriate.
Finally, Meezan said that the evaluation of such programs should focus on their effectiveness and the well-being of familiesnot just on simple outcomes; that delivery of services should be better integrated with less fragmentation and inconsistency; and that communities overall should be strengthened.
We need to recognize that if we have bad communities, we cant raise healthy kids, Meezan said in a post-inauguration interview. We can only improve neighborhoods and communities if we work on significant fronts simultaneouslyeconomic development, physical development, the creation of social opportunities, and the development of integrated social service systems.
Unless we do that, we turn our community residents basically into clients, rather than citizens. We dont need any more victims. What we need are strong families raising strong kids in strong neighborhoods with strong social institutions.