Research Stories

Faculty and students at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work lead interdisciplinary projects that  bring understanding to critical social problems, and develop and implement real solutions to address them. Below are some examples of the impact of recent research projects on communities in Texas and across the nation. See a full list of research projects. Read our report, Research that changes lives (PDF), which showcases 18 stories — from bringing the latest to addiction treatment to helping Hispanic parent-child relationships to partnering for alcohol-free pregnancies — that explain how  researchers at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work are changing people’s lives for the better.

Jaymie Rivera-Clemente, senior sister doula leads a Black Mama Community Collective sister circle meeting on Feb. 24, 2019. Credit Montinique Monroe

SHOWING UP FOR BLACK MOTHERS. Black women in Texas are 2.3 times more likely to die while giving birth compared to white women, regardless of income, education, marital status or health factors. is facing this issue head on. With generous funding from the St. David’s Foundation Focus on the Fourth Initiative, she founded Black Mamas Community Collective to save the lives of black mothers in Travis County through education, awareness and proposed policy solutions. Read the story.


STRENGTHENING HISPANIC PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIPS. Rubén Parra-Cardona brings to Austin Hispanic families a culturally adapted parenting training that can strengthen  parent-child relationships while reducing substance-use likelihood among Hispanic youth. Read the story.




A photo of two homeless menLEADING THE WAY TO END HOMELESSNESS. A Q&A with Heather Larkin about the National Homelessness Social Work Initiative, which aims to address homelessness holistically through fostering university-community partnerships, empowering student leadership, and expanding regional networks among social work schools across the country. Read the Q&A.


Children playing in water by flickr user Yingjia NiBEST PRACTICES TO HELP YOUNG CHILDREN SUCCEED. An effort from the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health to implement best practices to improve the developmental, social, and emotional health of young children in three Texas communities: Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, a small tribal community close to El Paso. Read the story.



PEER RECOVERY COACHES HELP BATTLE ADDICTION IN TEXAS. A new report from the Addiction Research Institute shows that Texans with substance use disorders who work with a peer recovery coach for a minimum of 12 months remain abstinent or reduce their substance use, improve their housing and employment status and reduce their overall use of health care services. Read the story.



child maltreatment prevention graphicCHILD MALTREATMENT PREVENTION IS WORKING IN TEXAS.  A new report from the  the Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing shows that Texas families who receive child maltreatment prevention services do not have a subsequent child protective services case. It is the first report to show that these prevention services are effective in the long run. Read the story.




idvsa-human-traffickingHUMAN TRAFFICKING BY THE NUMBERS. A new report from the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault shows that there are more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas, including almost 79,000 minors and youth victims of sex trafficking and nearly 234,000 adult victims of labor trafficking.

Read the story.



EARLY INTERVENTION TO PREVENT FETAL EXPOSURE TO ALCOHOL, MARIJUANA, AND TOBACCO. Researchers at the Health Behavior Research and Training Institute are testing an intervention to reduce fetal exposure to alcohol, marijuana and tobacco during early pregnancy. They are comparing an interactive, tablet-based prevention approach with brief in-person counseling designed to reach preconception women during routine visits for primary care, and increase their motivation to change behaviors that could result in substance-exposed pregnancies. Read the story.



Students during recessTESTED IN TEXAS. Zero tolerance was once seen as the only way to address student misconduct, particularly in high-poverty schools. But years of harsh, no-excuses discipline have resulted in high rates of suspensions and expulsions that affect minorities in disproportionate ways and predict a cascade of poor outcomes, from dropping out to jail time. The Institute for Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue is working with the Texas Education Agency to introduce restorative discipline, a preventive approach that emphasizes talking it out and resolving disputes while keeping students in school, to educators across the state. Read the story.


sex-ed-mulderSEX ED: SWITCHING THE FOCUS FROM WHAT WE TEACH TO HOW WE TEACH. Researchers from the Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing are infusing trauma-informed, sex-positive approaches into sexual health education programs for youth and trainings for youth-serving professionals. Read the story.




blueprint coverA GROUNDBREAKING BLUEPRINT FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT. A unique collaboration between The University of Texas System Police and social work researchers at the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault has produced a science-based, victim-centered blueprint for law enforcement to respond to sexual assault cases at all 14 UT institutions.

Read the story