RSF author Kristin Seefeldt has been awarded the 2018 Honorable Mention by the Society for Social Work and Research for her book Abandoned Families: Social Isolation in the Twenty-First Century. The Society for Social Work and Research annually recognizes outstanding scholarly contributions that advance social work knowledge.
In Abandoned Families, Seefeldt interviews low-income African American women in Detroit and finds that despite their efforts to rise out of poverty—including working, enrolling in higher education, and attempting to use social safety net benefits in times of crisis—many working families have access only to a separate but unequal set of poor-quality jobs, low-performing schools, and declining housing markets which offer few chances for upward mobility. These include low-wage service sector jobs, for-profit schools and online programs that push them further into debt, and homes in depopulated neighborhoods that trap them with underwater mortgages. In addition, the 1996 federal welfare reform and other social safety net changes have made it more difficult for struggling families to receive public benefits that could reduce their economic hardships. Taken together, these factors contribute to what Seefeldt calls the “social abandonment” of vulnerable families.