Social Work Faculty to conduct research for the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

New Agreement Continues a Long-term Partnership

Dan Meyer
Judi-Bartfeld-BW (1)
Judi Bartfeld

By Mel Morgenbesser

Sandra Rosenbaum School of  Social Work faculty have had a long-standing partnership with Wisconsin’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) to provide research on a variety of topics that affect children and families, with a focus on child support. In a recently announced agreement, six social work faculty research projects are part of a $5.3 million effort being supported by DCF.

“This research continues a collaborative process in which research has influenced state policy,” says Professor and Co-Principal Investigator Dan Meyer.

Alejandra Ros Pilarz and Tova Walsh each have projects examining aspects of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic: Ros Pilarz is working with Laura Cuesta, from the Rutgers University School of Social Work, to consider effects on child support processes and on the income packages of custodial parents. Walsh is examining effects on noncustodial fathers, many of whom were economically vulnerable prior to the pandemic.

Tawandra Rowell-Cunsolo will study the child support behaviors of noncustodial parents who have substance use disorders and whether treatment affects payments.

Jooyoung Kong is working with Dan Meyer (and Maria Cancian, Dean of Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy) to explore whether those who received child support when they were children have different outcomes as young adults.

Lonnie Berger is working with Professor Judi Bartfeld (Affiliate of the school and Professor of Consumer Science) to examine how divorced families whose children spend approximately half their time with each of their parents split child-related expenses.

Dan Meyer is also exploring the characteristics of those not paying their child support and the role of procedural justice in child support agency practices.

Marah Curtis is providing consulting to the project.

“Child support is a critically important policy area because it affects more than half of the children born today. Previous research has highlighted some of the ways that current policy isn’t working well, and has led to changes in policy and practice,” Meyer says.

Altogether, the $5.3 million research agreement, coordinated through the UW’s Institute for Research on Poverty, supports 18 projects. It includes funding for several students.  In addition, several alumni are also supported in this agreement, including David Pate (Chair and Associate Professor of the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Molly Costanzo, Lisa Klein Vogel, and Hilary Shager (all of the Institute for Research on Poverty), in addition to Laura Cuesta and Judi Bartfeld, mentioned earlier.

The Principal Investigators on the agreement are Dan Meyer and Judi Bartfeld.